The Slovenia Times

MPs back amended SDS-sponsored electronic communications bill


Ljubljana - The parliamentary Home Affairs Committee unanimously endorsed on Wednesday an opposition SDS-sponsored bill on electronic communications after heavily amending it. The new legislation transposes the EU directive on electronic communications networks, which Slovenia should have incorporated into national law almost two years ago.

Minister for Digital Transformation Emilija Stojmenova Duh said that the European Commission had already taken Slovenia to court, and the fine now tops EUR 800,000.

If passed, the bill will replace the existing electronic communications act from 2004 and comprehensively regulate electronic communications, bringing more security.

The Democrats (SDS) had filed to parliament practically the same bill the previous, SDS-led government had filed twice during its term in office.

Parliament first turned it down in February due to the opposition's concerns about the independence of the regulator and provisions seen as barring "high-risks providers" from the market, notably Huawei.

Now some 70 of a total of more than 320 articles of the bill were amended, with some of the amendments submitted by the coalition and others by the SDS.

Stojmenova Duh said the government had decided in June to support the bill if adequately amended, arguing it brought many advantages, hence the coalition's amendments, which reflect the government's view.

These amendments change the provisions on additional security requirements for operators providing mobile networks to critical infrastructure managers.

They prohibit the use of equipment that could threaten national security, while the original bill wanted to ban certain "high-risk providers" from the market.

The amendments also concern the technological features of networks, market analyses carried out at the request of operators, the reasons for the dismissal of the regulator's director, and the geographical review of the reach of broadband networks.

Another change says that public funds can be used not only for building high-capacity networks but also to promote connectivity in areas where infrastructure is already in place. "We want to lay the foundations for so-called connectivity vouchers," said the minister.

Speaking for the SDS before the amendments were endorsed, MP Branko Grims said that the bill brought more security, more transparency and more advantages for citizens.

As the amendments were backed, he said some security provisions had been watered down, but nevertheless added that "we urgently need this law".

The minister, on the other hand, said that such a complex law can never fully satisfy all stakeholders, whose interests are sometimes contradictory.

Still, she believes it is balanced providing for a proper transposition of the EU directive "while bringing citizens, companies and society as a whole many advantages".

In line with the EU directive, the new law should also increase the connectivity and use of high-capacity networks, make it easier for consumers to switch providers, which will be free of charge, and establish a public notification and alert system.


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