Yugoslavia Cut Off
from the Net?
Written by: Zer0
and Space Rogue
May 16, 1999
It is hard to sort
out what exactly is going on but various reports on the Net seem to indicate
that Yugoslavia may soon be cut off from the Net if they haven't been
already. If this happens it would be a flagrant violation of commercial
contracts with Yugoslav ISPs, not to mention a direct attack on freedom
of speech and of the Internet.
issued Executive Order 13088 back on June 9, 1998, which creates basic
trade sanctions, freezing of Yugoslavian assets, etc...
As expected the Treasury
Departments Office of Foreign Assets Control issued 73 licenses for exemptions
to the order. These where reported in a Letter to Congress and they included such things as overflight fees
for commercial airliners, for aid organizations to do their business there,
diplomatic transactions, etc... Normal stuff.
Order 13121 issued on April 30, 1999 changes the first order removing
the provision for exceptions. But it also : "prohibits exports or reexports,
directly or indirectly, from the United States or by a United States person,
wherever located, of goods, software, technology, or services to the Federal
Republic of Yugoslavia (Serbia and Montenegro)." Clinton summarized these
changes in this
letter to Congress dated May 1, 1999.
Now this could be
interpreted to include prohibitions on providing telecommunications services
like Internet connectivity. If you're an ISP in the US, and you sell bandwidth
to someone who resells bandwidth to a Yugoslavian ISP, it would appear
that you would be covered by this order and would be prevented from providing
However, the International
Emergency Economic Powers Act, whose text is available here and here, seems to indicate
that the President DOES NOT have authority to regulate the following:
"postal, telegraphic, telephonic, or other personal communication, which
does not involve a transfer of anything of value". This can be interpreted
to include Internet access.
Of course all of
this only effects the United States. The European Union may enact their
OK, now the legal
stuff is out of the way.
It would seem that
this whole thing started when Loral Space & Communications, one of the biggest
US satellite communication firms, had informed Belgrade provider "Informatika"
that they would stop Internet services for all Yugoslavia providers who
are linked to providers in the USA. They claimed that the decision was
based on a Presidential Order from Bill Clinton. (It should be noted that
this information comes from Yugoslavian ISPs)
Some reports have
indicated that Loral Space & Communications has now decided not
to disconnect Yugoslavia from the Internet, because of the protests from
around the world that followed the announcement.
Other reports say
that Loral Space & Communications is
currently in negotiations with the Treasury Departments Office of Foreign
Assets Control in an attempt to correctly interpret the law.
Even other unconfirmed
reports indicate that UUNET was informed by the State Department last
Thursday that all commerce to the republic of Yugoslavia was to be terminated.
We have been unable to confirm this report.
It would be unfortunate
if eye witness reports and first hand accounts where silenced from the
war zone. They say that all is fair in love and war. Wait, has there been
an official declaration of war?