Authorities want to oblige Ukrainians to verify the legality of purchased mobile phones − BRDO considers it unacceptable

In early August, the draft law amending the Law of Ukraine “On Electronic Communications” to protect the interests of the state and users of electronic communication services was published for discussion by the Parliament Committee on Digital Transformation.

This document contains some conflicting provisions that make it difficult for citizens to buy mobile phones and other terminal equipment. BRDO experts analyzed the draft law in detail and consider the amendments proposed by this legislative initiative to be unacceptable and therefore addressed a letter to the Committee.

Under the draft law, if a user buys a mobile phone with IMEI that has not been entered with the status of permitted for use in the mobile network in the register of identifiers, they will be able to use it only for a few months or will have to change the mobile phone status by their own. In fact, end users are responsible for verifying the legality of devices they have lawfully purchased; otherwise, they bear the risk of being disconnected from the network.

Additionally, the draft law lays the responsibility on end users to change the status of purchased devices from ‘temporarily permitted’ to ‘permitted for use in the electronic communication network’ independently, if these devices were purchased abroad and brought in Ukraine as personal items. For this purpose, they need to apply to the competent authorities and confirm the purchase of a mobile phone or the border crossing. Unfortunately, the draft law does not take into account that a large number of users do not have the opportunities and skills to take these measures (elderly people, people with disabilities, etc., people who do not have Internet access). This group of users may lose access to voice communication and mobile Internet services. But this is inconsistent with the guaranteed right of end users to free access to electronic communication services provided for by the Law “On Electronic Communications” (Part 1 of Article 107).

Also, it can be expected that unscrupulous importers will take advantage of this provision by selling the equipment together with sales receipts (real or fictitious) or changing the IMEI status with the help of front persons who actually crossed the state border. Therefore, it is doubtful that the changes introduced by the draft law will help fight against ‘grey imports’.

In such a way, the draft law leaves end users to deal with the problem of improper performance of state’s functions on combating the illicit market trade of mobile terminal equipment, its counterfeit and illegal traffic, instead of protecting their interests.

Moreover, this legislative initiative contains some provisions that are inconsistent with other laws and Ukraine’s international obligations.

BRDO experts consider the amendments to the Law “On Electronic Communications” that violate the rights of end users, contradict the laws of Ukraine, and obligations under the EU-Ukraine Association Agreement unacceptable. We hope that this legislative initiative will not be supported by parliamentarians.