Blocking of sites - Moldcell handling of blocking request in Moldova

Telia Company’s local company in Moldova, Moldcell, received a request from an authority to block certain sites. Moldcell requested the decision to be provided by a judge and a case was started against Moldcell for not adhering to the request.

The blocking request in question
In October 2017, Moldcell received a request from a police authority to block access to certain sites (17 sites) commercializing drugs. As the requesting authority did not apply the legal procedure as defined by law, Moldcell, in accordance with the Telia Company Group Policy on Freedom of Expression and Surveillance Privacy, refused to block and requested the decision to be provided by a judge. Moldcell also brought the matter to the attention of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. A case was started against Moldcell for not adhering to the blocking request. A court thereafter decided to declare as null the contravention document and sanctions against Moldcell. The court, however, did not say anything about the request to block. Moldcell therefore partially objected the decision and asked the Court of Appeal to comment on the blocking request. In February 2019, the Court of Appeal declared the blocking request to be ungrounded.

Blocking of websites, our basic view
Challenges such as e.g. disinformation, copyright piracy, privacy violations, hate speech and other unwanted materials on the internet have led to a growing debate in general, not only in Moldova, on what should be available on the internet, and what content that should be blocked.

These issues are very complex and multi-facetted. There are no easy solutions. It is the legislators and courts that must ensure to balance the needs of the society and define what is illegal and what must be blocked, and by whom.

Telia Company has had the same position for long. As internet service providers, we are not to – and will not –take the role of legislator and court by deciding what is legal or not, nor act upon unauthorized requests. We will, however, act swiftly based on proportionate and necessary decisions by courts and legislators, based on the rule of law, on what is illegal and must be blocked.