The rapid development and dissemination of digital technologies put more and more challenges in front of the society with regard to personal data protection. The problems are so deeply rooted that need both legal and institutional reforms, as well as new technical solutions. From this perspective, it is also important to study the international experience, particularly the experience of neighboring Georgia, where the problem of personal data protection has been addressed at government level much earlier than in Armenia; for this purpose the Georgian Government established an independent authority that has already produced some tangible achievements by now.
On November 23, the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression with the assistance of the Open Society Foundations – Armenia organized a roundtable on the Challenges for Armenian Regional TV Broadcasters in the Light of Recent Transition to Digital TV Broadcasting. The urgency of this discussion was created by the fact that the termination of analogue TV broadcasting during the week of October 20-26 by the national TV channels led to a situation where 11 regional and local TV broadcasters rapidly lost most of their audience and advertisers and appeared on the thin edge of bankruptcy.
Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression held a public discussion on October 18 entitled “Transition to Digital Television: Challenges, Problems and Possible Solutions”.
In his opening remarks, the chair of CPFE Ashot Melikyan said the process of switching off analog transmission ends on October 20. According to him, though technically Armenia is ready for digital transmission, some legislative, possibly also social issues have not been resolved.
The process of analog broadcasting in Armenia is close to completion. Analog broadcasting will be switched off starting from October 20. National and local TV channels are raising awareness of this process.
On September 29 at Court of First Instance of Erebuni and Nubarashen Communities of Yerevan the sitting on the case of hindering the work of the cameraman of Armenia TV Albert Galstyan is scheduled.
Together with the advancement of digital technologies a number of key issues of the healthcare sector, such as the right to confidentiality of patient’s data and introduction of the e-Health system, have grown into issues of high social importance and need oversight by the society. In particular, the protection of the right to confidentiality of patients’ data is highly imperative but not fully safeguarded due to the lack of explicit legislative regulation. The issue becomes even more urgent in the light of introducing the e-Health system which is aimed at improving the level of public healthcare.
As of today, only one television in each marz has license for digital broadcasting. Following the adoption of amendments to the Law on Television and Radio on 18 December 2015 the other TV channels based in the same region stood a chance to continue analogue transmission until the appearance of a private multiplexor or until the next bidding is announced.
The Expert Working Group set up by the Committee to Protect Freedom of Expression which includes representatives of Yerevan Press Club and Media Initiatives Centre has prepared a new draft law on amending the RA Law on Television and Radio the main purpose of which is to liberalize the sphere of private multiplexers and to rule out monopoly or dominant market position in the sphere of broadcasting.
The government continues to import and distribute decoders to families at risk, which will allow these families to access digital broadcasting. Note that earlier this year 48,733 devices were imported to Armenia for people at risk, of which 2000 were provided to NKR, the others were handed to families at risk in the ten marzes of Armenia free of charge.
Privacy related concerns grow parallel to rapid expansion of such public services as street cameras, public and private surveillance systems, as well as the mass usage of personalized telecommunication devices (mobile phones and smartphones). Not all countries address this issue properly; however, most European countries have national regulations restricting the use of such data for purposes other than originally specified. The Armenian legislation is mostly missing regulations on collection of bulk data. Although the recently adopted car traffic regulations foresee legitimacy of data obtained using street cameras, they do not stipulate legitimacy of use of cameras for other purposes, as well as do not define requirements towards the storage and usage of video archives.