This country-specific Q&A provides an overview to technology, media and telecom laws and regulations that may occur in Armenia.
This Q&A is part of the global guide to TMT. For a full list of jurisdictional Q&As visit http://www.inhouselawyer.co.uk/practice-areas/technology-third-edition/
What is the regulatory regime for technology?
This Law of Republic of Armenia on Electronic communications (hereinafter the “Law”) prescribes the rights, obligations, and liability of the end-users, operators of public electronic communications networks, providers of public electronic communications services, operators of private electronic communications networks, and of public authorities, pertaining to regulation of the electronic communications sector, creation, development, and operation of electronic communications networks, and provision of electronic communications services, as well as state control and supervision over the allocation and use of limited resources such as radio frequencies, orbital slots and numbers.
The Law does not govern the relations pertaining to the electronic communications networks other than public electronic communications networks, except when there is a need to obtain an authorisation to use limited resources, or there exists a requirement to comply with the equipment certification conditions provided for by the Law, or there is a need to exercise the powers and rights of the competent authority with respect to emergencies specified in the Law.
The Law does not extend to electronic communications networks held, operated, and used exclusively by, or provided exclusively to the Government of the Republic of Armenia. This is subject to regulation special laws govern the respective activities of the Government.
The activates of the persons providing transmitted television and audio programme services are subject to regulation of the Law of the Republic of Armenia on Television and radio broadcasting․
Are communications networks or services regulated?
The Law regulates the public electronic communication networks and services.
For further understanding of regulation it is important to present below the definition given in the Law for the “electronic communication network” and “electronic communication”.
Thus, in accordance with the Law electronic communication network stands for the a transmission system and, if applicable, also switching or routing equipment and other resources, which enable signal transmission by cable, radio, optical or other electromagnetic means, including by satellite network, fixed network, mobile land network, and electric power line systems, so that these are used for transmitting signals, regardless of the type of information conveyed. Public electronic communications network stands for an electronic communications network used wholly or mainly for the provision of public electronic communications services.
Electronic communication services are defined as a service which is normally provided for consideration and which consists, in whole or in part, of transmitting, and, if applicable, routing of signals on electronic communications networks, but does not include services providing or exercising editorial control over the content transmitted via electronic communications network․ Public electronic communication services are those of offered to the public or to such classes of end-users with the help of which it becomes, as a matter of fact, directly available to the public.
If so, what activities are covered and what licences or authorisations are required?
If there is no need to possess and exploit electronic communication network while providing electronic communication services, the one who intends to render public electronic communication services is obliged only to notify the Public Services Regulatory Commission of Armenia (hereinafter the “PSRC”) 5 working days prior to commence to provide such services. If one needs to be granted limited resources for rendering services (i.e. radio frequency, orbital slots and numbers) the one should commence to provide the services since the effective date of permission to use radio frequency.
If there is a need to possess and exploit electronic communication network to provide electronic communication services, the one should be granted a license on network and permission (authorization) to use a radio frequency prior to such activity. The network operator or service provider should request PSRC on reservation of a number or a code if it is required for rendering of electronic communication services, or to arrange the use thereof and the said should be granted of such a reservation thus to be able to provide that services.
The license on network, permission to use a radio frequency and reservation (permission) on use of a number or a code are issued by the PSRC; the license on network is not given without a permission on using radio frequency. The license on the network and related permissions may be provided either based on the general procedure, i.e. one submits an application with enclosed documents in the form and content required by the Law, or PSRC may announce a tender and the one should take a part to it and win for being granted with the license.
Is there any specific regulator for the provisions of communications-related services?
The regulator of electronic communications, including communication-related services are the PSRC.
In accordance with the Law PSRC is authorized to the followings:
- adopt decisions, establish rules and procedures, and issue orders in the scope of its functions;
- settle disputes between non-dominant operators, non-dominant operators and end- users, as well as between non-dominant service providers and end-users where the PSCR considers the appropriateness of such actions justified for preserving competition, service quality, and cost-based rates – considered as a whole – in the market;
- arrange public hearings and meetings pertaining to its functions;
- obtain information relevant to the performance of its functions;
- conduct investigations and research;
- authorise a representative to enter the buildings or premises which are used for providing public electronic communications services or for operating a public electronic communications network;
- initiate, in accordance with the laws of the Republic of Armenia, administrative proceedings against a licensee for non-compliance with the provisions of the legislation;
- intervene – on its own motion or upon the request of a party – in disputes for the purpose of ensuring effective co-operation and maximum efficiency in the electronic communications sector and clarifying the tariffs or terms of interconnection agreements;
- grant licenses and authorizations as well as permissions described in question 3.
- regulate tariffs in the limits prescribed under the Law,
- levy charges in cases provided for by law.
The regulatory body for protection of competition in Armenia (including in the area of communication-related services) is the State Commission for the Protection of Economic Competition of Armenia (hereinafter the “SCPEC”).
The regulatory body for the field of television and radiobroadcasting is the Commission on television and radio (hereinafter the “CTR”).
Are they independent of the government control?
In accordance with the Law of Armenia on Public Services Regulatory Body, the regulation in the field of public services is provided by the PSRC and the latter is an autonomous body.
In accordance with the Law of Armenia on Protection of Economic Competition, the SCPEC is an autonomous body as well. Nonetheless, under this same Law, SCPEC should consult with the PSRC in case the issue discussed related to the boundary of electronic communication product market and dominant position of economic entity in that markets.
According to the Law of Armenia on television and broadcasting the CTR is an independent governmental body.
Are platform providers (social media, content sharing, information search engines) regulated?
Platform providers are not regulated in Armenia except for the following cases:
- If they apply for tax exception (if it is the case under the Law of Armenia on state support to the information technologies sector); the regulation is in the limits of tax law provisions;
- If they process personal data; the regulation applies in the scope of given for personal data protection.
If so, does the reach of the regulator extend outside your jurisdiction?
The regulator extend does not reach outside Armenian jurisdiction.
Does a telecoms operator need to be domiciled in the country?
There is no requirement for network operator to be a local company or have a branch registered in Armenia.
Moreover, under the Law PSRC may not refuse an applicant qualified for granting a licence or authorisation solely on the ground that the latter is wholly or partially owned by a national of a foreign state or by an undertaking created under the laws of a foreign state.
Pursuant to the Law of Armenia on licensing, the foreign legal entities may act in Armenia based on the appropriate licenses granted by the foreign states based on the resolution of the Government of Republic of Armenia.
However, to the best of our understanding all network operator companies currently licensed in Armenia are local ones.
As a short note, based on the Law on television and radiobroadcasting the private multiplexor should be local Armenian company in capital of which foreigner may not have more than 50% of voting shares.
Are there any restrictions on foreign ownership of telecoms operators?
There is no restriction on foreign ownership of network operators or service providers in the field of electronic communication services. The details is above in question 8.
Are there any regulations covering interconnection between operators?
The interconnection between operators is the subject to regulation of the Law and legal acts adopted by the PSRC.
The basic rule is that each operator should interconnect, upon request, its public electronic communications network with the public electronic communications network of another operator.
The operator shall grant interconnection pursuant to the following principles:
- “any-to-any” interconnection must be granted in such a manner so as to enable all customers of each public electronic communications network to communicate with all customers of other public electronic communications networks or to obtain services from other networks;
- “point-to-point" interconnection must be maintained in such a manner so as to enable the delivery of public electronic communications services to any customer of one network by the operator of another network;
- interconnecting operators shall be equally liable for the provision of interconnection in reasonable time limits.
In addition to the above listed principals a dominant operator shall be obliged to provide interconnection in accordance with the following principles:
- The conditions for providing interconnection must: (a) be non-discriminatory with regard to similarly situated persons; (b) be reasonable and transparent as to technical conditions of interconnection as well as the number and location of interconnection points; (c) include the charges to be calculated pursuant to the principles defined in the Law;
- Interconnection must be approved by the PSRC at any point specified in the interconnection request: (a) not later than within forty-five days after the operator agrees to the conditions of interconnection under the Reference Offer for Interconnection; (b) within two months after the receipt of the request under the Reference Offer for Interconnection, except where a special construction is needed. In this case, the parties shall agree upon reasonable time limits;
- The dominant operator shall be obliged to provide the operator requesting interconnection with information necessary for interconnection;
- The dominant operator shall be obliged to use the information received from the operator requesting interconnection only for the purpose of providing interconnection services and not to disclose such information to third parties, with the exception of cases provided for by law;
- The dominant operator shall be obliged to give, within a reasonable time limit, a prior notice to the interconnected operator of the modifications in technical standards or operating characteristics of the network of the dominant operator;
- The dominant operator must provide interconnection under the same conditions as it provides interconnection to itself or to its affiliates;
- Cross-subsidisation shall not be allowed;
- Where technically and economically feasible, the interconnection services and components must be separated to the extent that the operator requesting interconnection does not have to pay for such network components or facilities that it does not need.
If so are these different for operators with market power?
Every dominant operator shall file with the PSRC a Reference Offer for Interconnection setting out the interconnection services and the conditions upon which other operators may interconnect with the public electronic communications network of the given dominant operator.
If agreed by both parties, the conditions and prices of interconnection involving at least one dominant operator may be included in an agreement that will legally prevail over the corresponding Reference Offer for Interconnection.
Every dominant operator shall provide the copies of all interconnection agreements to the PSRC and the latter is entitled to reject, suspend, or amend the said.
Conditions of interconnection with a dominant operator shall be determined:
- pursuant to the Reference Offer for Interconnection – as approved by the PSRC; where more than one Reference Offer for Interconnection is applicable, the PSRC shall determine the one to be applied;
- by an agreement concluded between the interconnection seeker and the interconnection provider, which has been approved by the PSRC;
- by the PSRC that acts as a dispute settlement body in accordance with the arbitration rules referred to in the Law.
Non-dominant operators may set forth proposed rates and conditions of interconnection in a standard contract form or in a Reference Offer for Interconnection.
Conditions of interconnection with a non-dominant operator shall be determined:
- by an agreement between the interconnection seeker and the interconnection provider;
- pursuant to the Reference Offer for Interconnection – as approved by the PSRC; where more than one Reference Offer for Interconnection is applicable, the Regulator shall determine the one to be applied;
- by the PSRC that acts as a dispute settlement body in accordance with the arbitration rules referred to in the Law.
Every dominant operator, which shall provide interconnection for public electronic communications services, must file a Reference Offer for Interconnection with the PSRC:
- within ninety days after being identified as occupying a dominant position;
- at least ninety days before the expiry date of the existing Reference Offer for Interconnection.
A Reference Offer for Interconnection filed by the operator or any part thereof may take effect upon the approval by the PSRC.
The Reference Offers for Interconnection of dominant operators shall include the commitment of the dominant operator to provide interconnection to the requesting operator not later than within forty-five days after the latter agrees to the conditions of interconnection.
Dominant operators shall be obliged to calculate the charges for interconnection and interconnection services in accordance with the following fundamental principles:
- Costs shall be borne by the operator or operators; whose activities cause these costs;
- Non-current costs shall be recovered through non-current charges, and current costs shall be recovered through current charges;
- Usage-related non-variable costs shall be recovered at the account of presumptive payments, whereas usage-related variable costs shall be recovered through usage-based charges;
- Costs shall include attributable operational expenditures and amortisation, as well as a reasonable amount estimated to receive reasonable return;
- Interconnection price shall not include the value of recovery of common costs;
- Where the PSRC is unable to receive reasonably sufficient, relevant and reliable information about the costs, it may take into account the comparable international standards. The PSRC may establish supplementary regulations governing the prices which a dominant operator may charge for interconnection services;
- After public consultation, the PSRC may adopt supplementary rules governing the charges for interconnection services.
Charges established by dominant operators for interconnection and interconnection services shall be transparent and public. Components of charges shall be explicitly separable and the methods of cost calculation shall be published.
Charges for interconnection services of a dominant operator shall not depend on the type of communication network creating or restricting the communication or the type of transmission through the interconnection point, except where the type of the network or of the transmission affects the cost of delivery of an interconnection service.
Тhe obligation to prove the compliance of charges for interconnection and interconnection services with the requirements of the above listed principles shall lie with the dominant operator. Upon availability of sufficient data about the costs, international criteria may be relied upon.
A dominant operator that interconnects its public electronic communications network to another public electronic communications network shall bring its system of costaccounting through calculation of charges and expenditures in line with the provisions of the Law within the time limits laid down by the PSRC. Meanwhile, the Regulator may rely upon the international criteria and unilaterally establish the interconnection rates after public consultation.
What are the principal consumer protection regulations that apply specifically to telecoms services?
The Law specifies the rules concerning service provision to the consumers and protection of them, which are presented below.
Service providers shall, as a rule, provide services to the public upon reasonable requirements. However, a service provider may refuse to provide retail services to customers, terminate or interrupt the provision thereof to customers on the basis of the tariff or the agreement concluded with them, where:
- its actions do not result in discrimination between similarly situated subscribers, and the grounds for refusal are explicitly set out under the tariff, and in case of a non-dominant service provider not filing fixed tariffs – under the contract;
- end-user has connected a non-certified terminal equipment to the public electronic communications network, or the service provider has revealed an apparent physical or technical damage caused to such network;
- end-user fails to file the information required under the tariff for the given services, identification data of connection point with the public communications network or the address which allows to provide the required services;
- end-user has failed to pay for electronic communications services provided thereto by the same service provider.
In any case, a service provider shall not refuse to provide services to any end-user in bankruptcy or liquidation process unless the end-user declines to make the minimum deposit required under the tariff.
A person who files an application for a public electronic communications service may withdraw the application at any time before the commencement of the delivery of the given service.
The service provider shall provide services to new customers within reasonable time limits; the PSRC shall set a maximum time limit for ordering services, which shall not exceed ten days.
A service provider shall restrict or suspend the provision of public electronic communications services to a subscriber, where:
- the subscriber has failed to pay for the provided services in a timely manner;
- the subscriber has connected non-certified terminal equipment to a public electronic communications network;
- the subscriber has connected terminal equipment to a public electronic communications network, which is incompatible or interferes with the operation of the public electronic communications network or with the ability of others to use public electronic communications services;
- the restriction or suspension is necessary for installation, repair, replacement, or maintenance of equipment or line facilities;
- the subscriber breaches the conditions of the tariff filed by the service provider or the service contract;
- the service provider discovers that the subscriber submitted incorrect data in requesting such service, and such data may be harmful;
- the term of services agreed between the service provider and the subscriber has expired.
The service provider may restrict or suspend the provision of a public electronic communications service provided that the provider has informed the subscriber thereon by means of a public electronic communications network, and where such notice is not possible, in writing, at least five business days before the restriction or suspension of the communications service, and shall state the duration of, and reasons for the restriction or suspension. Such notice shall not be required where the immediate restriction or suspension of the communications service is necessary under the Law.
The provision of public electronic communications services may not be restricted or suspended if the subscriber eliminates the circumstances underlying the restriction or suspension prior to the planned restriction or suspension of provision of public communications services.
In case of restriction or suspension of provision of public electronic communications services, the service provider shall be obliged to ensure that the subscriber affected by such restriction or suspension retains, if technically possible, the possibility to call the police, ambulance, fire fighting and rescue services.
Service providers shall not restrict or suspend the provision of public electronic communications services if – prior to the deadline specified under the tariff or the payment contract – the subscriber contests the charge for such service in writing and simultaneously pays the portion of the charge not contested.
In case of service interruption caused by an operator or service provider, such operator or service provider shall restore the service provided to a subscriber within two days after the elimination of the cause of interruption. Tariffs of dominant operators must oblige dominant operators to levy no charge from subscribers for the period of disconnection or suspension.
A subscriber to public electronic communications services shall be entitled to suspend the service at its discretion for a period extending from one month up to one year, unless otherwise established by the PSRC for the given public electronic communications service. The subscriber shall be obliged to give the service provider at least a ten-day prior notice of such suspension and perform all its other obligations with respect to suspension of service as set forth under the tariff or service contract.
A service provider shall suspend the provision of a service where technical conditions make it impossible to perform the above-mentioned as for the date requested, and if a subscriber wishes to change the connection location of its terminal equipment or the number issued thereto. In case of suspension of the service:
- provision of public electronic communications services and payment obligations associated thereto shall be suspended;
- terminal equipment or the end-user’s line shall be disconnected;
- the service provider may give the terminal equipment and number necessary for the service and belonging to the service provider to another subscriber.
In case of elimination of the grounds for the suspension of service, the service provider shall resume the service at the request of the subscriber.
Any end-user shall be entitled to terminate the service without prior notice, subject to the termination and penalty provisions contained in the tariff or service contract.
Every operator or service provider shall maintain and staff at least one operational office in each geographic area defined by the PSRC, where it operates a public electronic communications network or provides public electronic communications services, so as such offices provide information relating to services and tariffs, accept and grant applications for service, explain charges on customer bills and adjust charges accrued with errors. Copies of tariffs as well as maps showing geographical zones and the tariffs applicable thereto shall be accessible at any operational office of a dominant operator or dominant service provider.
Every operator and service provider shall treat and keep as confidential information regarding the type, location, purpose, destination, quantity, and technical conditions of services used by its customers.
An operator or service provider may disclose such information (an shall not be liable for any damage caused as a result of disclosure of such):
- in cases and in the manner provided for by law, in connection with surveillance, inquest, or criminal prosecution with regard to a criminal offense or threat to national security;
- in the cases explicitly noted in the Law
- upon the written consent of the customer;
- where the disclosure is necessary in defence of the operator or service provider (proceedings are pending against that operator or service provider). The customer may request that such disclosure be made on a confidential basis at an in-camera proceeding.
Providers of services subject to tariff regulation may discount the service tariffs:
- on the basis of the volume of services supplied to the end-user, if cost justified;
- where the service subject to a discount is a service with a recently established tariff, provided the discount is limited to 90 days following customer subscription to the service. Any discount shall be public, transparent, and available identically to all similarly situated customers.
Volume discounts may be calculated by cumulating the traffic of different persons, provided that those persons are engaged in a common business (other than the business of providing electronic communications services) and receive no more billing statements for subsets of the cumulative charges than separate persons using the same traffic volume.
Discounts shall be applied upon the PSRC’s approval.
What legal protections are offered in relation to the creators of computer software?
In accordance with the Civil Code of Armenia and the Law of Armenia on copyright and related rights the software is the object of the copyright and protection as such.
The Law of Armenia on copyright and related rights defines computer software as programs expressed in any form, including preparatory design materials for their creation.
Computer software is the subject to protection if it is original and is a result of the author’s own creative intellectual work.
Under the general rule, the author of a computer software shall have the exclusive right to do or authorize the following acts:
- to make permanent or temporary reproductions of the computer software by any means and in any form in part or in whole. In so far as loading, displaying, running, transmission or storage of the computer software necessitate its reproduction the author’s permission shall be necessary for such acts;
- to make translations, adaptations, arrangements and any other alterations of the computer software and the reproduction of the results thereof without prejudice to the rights of the person who alters the software with his consent;
- to distribute the original or copies thereof in any form including its rental and lending.
The person lawfully possessing a copy of a computer software (hereinafter, the user), without the consent of the author and without additional remuneration, has a right to reproduce or to alter it in a single copy, if such copy or alteration is necessary:
- for the use of the computer software in conjunction with the technical means of the user, exclusively for the purpose and to the extent for which the software has been intended, including for correction of the obvious errors present therein;
- for the replacement of the lawfully acquired computer software or a copy of it, in case of the latter having been lost, destroyed or rendered useless.
The user of the computer software has a right, without the consent of the author and without additional remuneration, to observe, study or test the functioning of the software in order to determine the ideas and principles which underlie any element of the software if he does so while performing any of the acts of loading, displaying, running, transmitting or storing in a memory the software which he is entitled to do.
The user of the computer software has a right, without the consent of the author and without additional remuneration, to reproduce and convert the object code of the software to the source code (to decompile the computer software) or commission other persons to perform those acts if they are indispensable to obtain the information necessary to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer software with other software, if the following conditions are met:
- the information necessary to achieve interoperability has not previously been readily available from the other sources to the lawful user or the persons acting on his instructions;
- these acts are confined to the parts of the software under the decompilation, which are necessary to achieve interoperability. The information obtained as a result of the mentioned decompilation may be used only for the purposes to achieve interoperability of an independently created computer software and shall not be transferred to other persons, with the exception of the cases, when it is necessary for the interoperability of an independently created computer software, or used for the development, production or marketing of a computer software similar in its expression to the software under the decompilation or for performing any other act infringing the copyright.
Do you recognise specific intellectual property rights in respect of data/databases?
Under the Law of Armenia on copyright and related rights a database stands for a collection of works, data or other independent materials arranged in a systematic or methodical way the individual elements of which shall be separately accessible by electronic or other means and the acquisition, verification or presentation thereof shall require substantial qualitative and (or) quantitative contribution.
The same Law defines the maker of a database as a person by whose initiative and on whose own responsibility substantial qualitative and (or) quantitative contribution is made for the acquisition, verification or presentation of the content of the database.
Any substantial change, evaluated qualitatively or quantitatively, to the content of the database, including any substantial change resulting from the accumulation of successive editions, deletions or alterations, which would result in the database being considered to be a substantial new investment, evaluated qualitatively or quantitatively, shall qualify a new database resulting from that investment.
The maker of a database shall have the right to prohibit
- the extraction (the permanent or temporary transfer of all or a substantial part of the contents of a database to another medium by any means or in any form) and/or
- the re-utilization (any form of making available to the public all or substantial part of the contents of a database by the distribution of copies, by renting, by on-line or other forms of transmission)
of the whole contents or a substantial qualitative and/or quantitative part of the database.
Lending of the original or copies of a database through establishments, which are accessible to the public, is not an act of extraction or re-utilization.
The aforementioned right of maker of database may be applied irrespective of the eligibility of the contents of that database for protection by copyright or by related rights and shall be without prejudice to the rights of the authors or holders of related rights in respect of the works contained in the database.
The repeated and systematic extraction and/or re-utilization of insubstantial parts of the contents of the database implying acts which conflict with a normal exploitation of that database or which unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the maker of the database shall not be permitted.
The maker of database may transfer his economic rights to a third person wholly or in part by a contract; the rights may be inherently transferred to another person by the order of comprehensive succession or as a result of reorganization of a legal entity, which is the right holder.
The maker of database may also provide, by contract, third persons with the right to use the database. The contract shall include the form and term of use of the database, the amount of remuneration and the payment order, the area, etc.
The maker of a database which is made available to the public in whatever manner may not prevent a lawful user of the database from extracting and (or) re-utilizing insubstantial parts of its contents, evaluated qualitatively and (or) quantitatively, for any purposes, whatsoever. Where a lawful user is authorized to extract and (or) reutilize only a part of the database, this provision shall apply only to that part.
A lawful user of a database, which is made available to the public in whatever manner, may not perform acts, which may conflict with normal exploitation of the database or unreasonably prejudice the legitimate interests of the maker of the database.
A lawful user of a database which is made available to the public in whatever manner may not cause prejudice to the holder of a copyright or related rights in respect of the works or subject matters contained in the database.
A lawful user of a database which is made available to the public in whatever manner may, without the authorization of the maker of the database, extract or re-utilize a substantial part of its contents:
- in the case of extraction for private purposes of the contents of a non-electronic database;
- in the case of extraction for the purposes of illustration for teaching or scientific research, as long as the source is indicated and to extent justified by the non-commercial purpose to be achieved;
- in the case of extraction and (or) re-utilization for the purposes of public security or an administrative or judicial procedure.
What key protections exist for personal data?
The Law of Armenia on protection of personal (Data protection law) data guarantees the rights of natural persons (data subjects) and imposes mandatory requirements on processors of personal data, authorised persons and third parties. The Law does not use the term "controller", but uses the terms "processor" and "authorised persons" instead.
Data protection law provides a broad definition of "personal data". Personal data includes any information relating to a natural person that allows or may allow for the direct or indirect identification of that person's identity.
The Data Protection Law does not guarantee the protection of publicly available personal data, that is, information that either:
- Becomes publicly available to certain persons or the general public with the data subject's consent or through conscious actions of the data subject aimed at making his or her personal data publicly available.
- Constitutes publicly available information by law (such as a person's name, surname, year, month and day of birth, and place of birth).
The Data Protection Law defines "special category personal data" as information relating to a person's race, national identity or ethnic origin, political views, religious or philosophical beliefs, trade union membership, health, and sex life.
The Data Protection Law also defines "biometric personal data" as information relating to the physical, physiological and biological characteristics of a person.
The Data Protection Law covers personal data processing, that is, any operation or set of operations, regardless of the form and mode of implementation (automated, with or without use of technical means), related to the collection, input, systematisation, organisation, storage, use, alteration, restoration, transfer, rectification, blocking, or deletion of personal data, and any other operations involving personal data.
"Use of personal data" is defined as any operation performed on personal data that gives rise or may give rise to legal consequences for the data subject or third parties, or is otherwise related to the rights and freedoms of such persons, and which may be directly or indirectly aimed at issuing decisions or forming opinions, acquiring rights, granting rights or privileges, restricting or depriving of rights, or achieving any other purpose.
To obtain the data subject's written consent before processing personal data, a processor or authorised person must notify the data subject of its intention to process his or her data.
Before processing personal data, the data processor can notify the[Personal Data Protection Agency (PDPA) of its intention to process data. On request of the PDPA, a data processor must also notify the PDPA of any processing of personal data. A processor that intends to process biometric or special category personal data must notify the PDPA before such processing. Any notification to the PDPA must include the following information:
- Name of the processor or authorised person (if any), as well as their registered office or place of registration (actual residence).
- Purpose and legal grounds of the processing.
- type of personal data being processed.
- Number of data subjects.
- List of operations performed on personal data and general description of the processing methods used by the processor.
- Description of measures that the processor must undertake to ensure the security of the processing.
- Start date of the processing.
- Time limits and conditions for completing the processing.
The PDPA must enter the above information and date of notification in the register of processors. The PDPA can request additional information if the information submitted is incomplete or inaccurate. When there are changes to registered information, the processor must notify the PDPA within ten working days after the changes occur.
The processor must:
- Provide the data subject or PDPA with information about the processing of personal data on request.
- Carry out necessary operations for making personal data complete, keeping up to date, rectifying or deleting incomplete, inaccurate, outdated, or unlawfully obtained personal data or data unnecessary for achieving the purposes of the processing.
- Delete or block personal data that are not necessary for achieving the legitimate purposes of the processing.
- Use encryption keys.
- Prevent access to process technologies by unauthorised persons and ensure that processed data are only accessed by lawful users.
- Maintain the confidentiality of personal data processed for the performance of official or employment duties, including after completion of the processing.
- Block personal data until the completion of control activities, if the reliability or lawfulness of the processing are challenged by the data subject or the PDPA.
- Rectify personal data and unblock them in accordance with information submitted by the data subject or PDPA, if it is confirmed that personal data are inaccurate.
- Correct violations of data protection rules if unlawful processing operations are revealed, or delete unlawfully processed personal data if it is impossible to correct violations.
- Terminate the processing of personal data when the purpose of the processing is achieved, unless otherwise required by law.
In Armenia, the processing of personal data is deemed to be lawful if either:
- The data subject has given his or her consent to the processing (except in cases provided by law).
- The processed data is obtained from a publicly available source.
The data subject can give his or her consent in person or through a representative if a power of attorney specifically provides for such power.
The data subject can withdraw his or her consent in cases prescribed by the Data Protection Law and other laws.
The data subject must in principle give his or her consent in writing or electronically (validated by an electronic digital signature) or it may be via implicit action.
The data subject's consent is deemed to be given and the processor has the right to process personal data where any of the following applies:
- Personal data are included in a document addressed to the processor and signed by the data subject, except when the document objects to the processing of such personal data.
- The processor has obtained personal data under an agreement concluded with the data subject and uses such data for the purposes of implementing that agreement.
- The data subject voluntarily provides information orally on his or her personal data to the processor for use purposes.
In the case of incapacity or limited capacity of the data subject, or if the data subject is under the age of 16, consent must be given by their legal representative (for example, a parent, custodian, and so on).
In the case of death of the data subject or a court judgment declaring him or her dead, consent to process his or her personal data must be given by all his/her legal heirs or the head of the community of the place of opening of the succession (if there are no legal heirs). If the data subject is declared missing, consent must be given by the trust manager of the data subject's property.
If consent is not given, the processing of personal data is deemed to be lawful in the following cases:
- The processed data is obtained from a publicly available source.
- The data subject has died and the data being processed are his or her name, gender, year, month and day of birth and death.
- The processed data concerns the personal life of a deceased public figure in the fields of culture, arts, science, education, sport, religion or other public field, and 50 years have elapsed since the day of that person's death.
- Other cases provided by law.
Special category and biometric personal data cannot generally be processed without the consent of the data subject. The processing of special category personal data must be terminated when the purpose of the processing no longer exists.
The Data Protection Law and other laws list the cases in which special category and biometric personal data can be processed without the data subject’s consent.
There are additional technical requirements for the protection of biometric personal data.
Are there restrictions on the transfer of personal data overseas?
The Data Protection Law allows the transfer of personal data to third countries where either:
- The data subject has given his or her consent to the transfer.
- The transfer stems from the purposes of the processing or is necessary for the implementation of these purposes.
To transfer personal data to a third country, the permission of the PDPA is required. The PDPA will grant permission if it considers that the data transfer agreement ensures an adequate protection of personal data.
The PDPA's permission is not required if personal data is transferred to a country that ensures an adequate level of protection of personal data. An adequate level of protection is presumed where either:
- Personal data are transferred in compliance with international agreements.
- Personal data are transferred to a country included in a list officially published by the PDPA.
The Data Protection Law does not distinguish between transfers of data abroad within the same group of companies or to a third company. Therefore, the above rules apply in both scenarios.
Personal data held by state bodies can only be transferred to foreign state bodies under interstate agreements.
A data processor and an authorised person must enter into a data transfer agreement. Agreements for the transfer of data abroad must ensure an adequate level of protection of personal data.
A data transfer agreement between a processor and an authorised person must include the following information:
- Legal grounds and conditions for the processing.
- Purpose(s) of the processing.
- List of processed personal data.
- Data subjects concerned by the processing.
- Persons to whom personal data can be transferred.
- Technical and organisational measures for the protection of personal data.
- Any other necessary information.
A data transfer agreement is not sufficient to legitimise transfer, unless the law allows transfer without the data subject’s consent and the agreement provides an adequate level of protection.
When data is transferred to a country that does not ensure an adequate level of data protection, permission from the Personal Data Protection Agency is required for the transfer, based on an analysis of the data transfer agreement
What is the maximum fine that can be applied for breach of data protection laws?
Administrative sanctions, for infringements that are not subject to
Fines vary depending on the rule violated. The highest fine is AMD500,000 (about USD1,000).
· monetary penalties from AMD200,000 to AMD500,000; or
· imprisonment for one to two months
What additional protections have been implemented, over and above the GDPR requirements?
Are there any regulatory guidelines or legal restrictions applicable to cloud-based services?
Pursuant to the Civil Code of Armenia, an electronic communication service provider shall not be liable for the content of electronic documents transferred by third persons through its information system, as well as for obligations arising between third persons as a result of the transfer, unless otherwise provided for by law or the contract concluded with the service provider. However, electronic communication service providers shall be liable where, without having the authority to do so or acting beyond their authority, they have:
- transferred an electronic document in the name of another person;
- selected, in the name of another person, a receiver of an electronic document;
- selected and made changes to an electronic document of another person.
An operator of a website or an electronic application serving as a platform for third persons to conclude and implement contracts (electronic trading platform operator) shall not be liable for obligations arising from contracts concluded between third persons, unless otherwise provided for by law, by the contract concluded between the electronic trading platform operator and the third person. This rule not applicable in cases where the electronic trading platform operator has operated the electronic trading platform in violation of the requirements of the law.
An electronic trading platform operator shall not be obliged to monitor the lawfulness of the content submitted by the users of the platform and its conformity with the legislation of the Republic of Armenia, except for the cases when the electronic trading platform operator knew or should have known that the content submitted by the users was manifestly unlawful, manifestly unreliable or manifestly contradicting the legislation of the Republic of Armenia.
An electronic trading platform operator shall show the mandatory information on sellers (performers of works, service providers) as prescribed by law and save it throughout the entire time the seller (performer of works, service provider) is registered on the platform and at least one year after the end of said registration, unless a longer term is provided for by law or the contract concluded with the electronic trading platform operator.
Are there specific requirements for the validity of an electronic signature?
The Law of Armenia on Electronic Documents and Electronic Signature regulates relations linked to application of electronic documents and electronic signatures. Nonetheless this Law does not regulate relations linked to the use of electronic version of a person’s manuscript signature and its copies, as well as the use of documents signed in such a way.
Under this Law electronic signature means obtained signature-creation data and a cryptographic data modification of the given electronic document presented in a unique sequence of symbols in electronic form, which is attached to or logically associated with an electronic document and which is used to identify the signatory, as well as to protect the electronic document from forgery and distortion.
In practice, the system of electronic documents of the governmental bodies allows accepting as an electronic signature this of which a natural person gains with his/her ID card (is issued by the Police of Armenia). And there is only one company is certified to create electronic signature and does it while issuance of ID card. Therefore, it is true to say that electronic signature in Armenia is one in ID card.
In the event of an outsourcing of IT services, would any employees, assets or third party contracts transfer automatically to the outsourcing supplier?
In the event of an outsourcing of IT services, no employee, asset or third-party contract transfers automatically to the outsourcing supplier.
If a software program which purports to be a form of A.I. malfunctions, who is liable?
No relevant regulation are adopted.
What key laws exist in terms of: (a) obligations as to the maintenance of cybersecurity; (b) and the criminality of hacking/DDOS attacks?
a) obligations as to the maintenance of cybersecurity; and
There is no separate law or regulation which specially regulates the cybersecurity. However there is a specific field regulation law which convers cybersecurity issues related to the activities in that particular fields.
b) the criminality of hacking/DDOS attacks?
The Chapter 24 “Crimes against computer information security” of Criminal Code of Armenia criminalize the followings:
- Access (penetration) into computer information system without permission.
- Change in computer information
- Computer sabotage
- Illegal appropriation of computer data
- Manufacture or sale of special devices for illegal penetration into a computer system or network.
- Manufacture, use and dissemination of hazardous software.
- Breach of rules for operation of a computer system or network
What technology development will create the most legal change in your jurisdiction?
The discussions and drafting of changes in legislation concerning the blockchain technologies are now in process.
Which current legal provision/regime creates the greatest impediment to economic development/ commerce?
The Armenian legislation is quite liberal and usually has been adopting with the purpose of Armenia becomes more attractive for the investors. The main obstacle is the applying of the rules and regulation in particularly by the governmental authorities and officers, i.e. the issues are the correct understanding and clear following the requirements.
Do you believe your legal system specifically encourages or hinders digital services?
Armenian legislation pays attention on the digital services; Armenia regulates the electronic documents and electronic signature issues, during 2016-2017 the amendment to the Civil Code of Armenia and related laws has adopted with the aim to regulate electronic platform trading activities. Armenia encourages IT startup companies by providing tax benefits which has its positive impact on settling up and improvement of digital services in country.
It will be the true to mention that there is no limitation or restriction in Armenian law as such as regards to the digital services rendering possibilities.
To what extent is your legal system ready to deal with the legal issues associated with artificial intelligence?
The legal system is mostly based on the traditional legal concepts of continental law system. Currently the regulation of artificial intelligence may be possible within that scopes. The point is that if no changes is made in future the legal professionals will discuss the content of legal concepts in comparing with the fact relate with artificial intelligence and the dispute will not end until the amendment to be made in legislation.