Cyprus: Cyprus Chapter Of The Internet Laws And Regulatory Regimes

Introduction

With an area of 9,251 square kilometers, Cyprus is the third largest island in the Mediterranean Sea. The island was invaded in 1974 by the Turkish army and about 37 per cent of the territory remains under Turkish occupation. The so- called Turkish Republic of North Cyprus is recognized only by Turkey, and this chapter deals only with the area governed by the legitimate government of Cyprus.

While political uncertainty continues to surround "the Cyprus problem", and it is hoped that there will be a satisfactory resolution in the near future, day-to-day life for most people is unaffected by the issue. The population of the area controlled by Cyprus is 858,000, according to the government statistical service. Reliable, up-to-date information for the occupied area is unavailable.

Cyprus's strategic location in the Eastern Mediterranean at the crossroads of Europe, Asia, and Africa has contributed to its development as an international business and financial center. In addition to its relaxed way of life and attractive climate, it offers an excellent commercial infrastructure, highly educated, English- speaking human resources, and a business-friendly environment, particularly in the area of taxation, a high standard of living, and a low rate of crime. Living costs are moderate, and good airline connections and telecommunications and increasing alignment with the European position in matters of culture and trade make it an effective bridge between East and West. Its time zone is seven hours ahead of New York, two hours ahead of London, an hour behind Moscow, and five hours behind Beijing. The official languages are Greek and Turkish, but English is the lingua franca of business.

Cyprus is an independent, sovereign republic with a presidential system of government and a written constitution that safeguards the rule of law, political stability, human rights, and the ownership of private property. It has been a member of the European Union (EU) since 1 May 2004. In preparation for EU membership, Cyprus made significant structural and economic reforms that transformed its economic landscape and created a modern, open, and dynamic business environment. Since accession, Cyprus has successfully faced the challenge of European integration, and has established itself as the natural portal for inward and outward investment between the EU and the rest of the world, particularly the rapidly growing economies of Russia, Eastern Europe, India, and China. Cyprus is a member of the Commonwealth, the Council of Europe, the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the United Nations (UN), the World Bank, and the World Trade Organization (WTO) and is a founder member of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe.

On 1 January 2008, Cyprus adopted the euro as its currency. The legal system, which is fully harmonized with the acquis communautaire of the EU, is largely based on the English Common Law system. Section 29(1)(c) of the Courts of Justice Law of 1960 provides that the English Common Law and principles of equity apply in Cyprus, provided that they do not conflict with the Constitution of Cyprus or with laws passed by the House of Representatives. English cases are regarded as highly persuasive, and in some instances binding, in the Cyprus courts. The Constitution of Cyprus is the supreme law and, subject to the acquis communautaire of the EU, prevails over any other legislation that is inconsistent with or prohibited by it.

Telecommunications

In General

Cyprus is connected worldwide via a submarine fiber optic cable network. The network connects Cyprus directly with Greece, Italy, Israel, Syria, Lebanon, and Egypt and thereafter with the rest of the world. The Cyprus end of the fiber optic network is owned by CYTA Global, a division of the Cyprus Telecommunications Authority (CYTA), a corporate body established by law to provide telecommunication services nationally and internationally.

CYTA has made substantial investments in past years, upgrading its telecommunications network and providing a number of new advanced services to meet market demand. CYTA provides national coverage of digital PSTN and ISDN telephone lines and offers ADSL in all urban and suburban areas as well as several rural areas. In December 2015, the government approved legislation to privatize CYTA, with a target of completion by the end of 2017.

Following market liberalization after entry into the EU in 2004, a number of other service providers offer similar services in competition with CYTA. Wireless networks are widespread. In accordance with EU policy, Cyprus completed the transition to digital television broadcasting in 2011. Broadcast media comprise a mixture of state and privately run television and radio services, with the non- profit organization and state-funded Cyprus Broadcasting Corporation transmitting island-wide on four radio and two domestic television channels, six private television broadcasters, satellite and cable television services, and numerous private radio stations.

The regulatory system for the telecommunications, media, and information technology activities and services follows the EU model, with the Commissioner of Electronic Communications and Postal Regulation (OCECPR) responsible for regulation of telecommunication services and the Cyprus Radio and Television Authority having responsibility for broadcast media.

According to the Internet Society, Cyprus ranks fiftieth in the world for Internet penetration. A survey carried out by the government statistical service in the first quarter of 2014 showed that 68.6 per cent of households had Internet access, compared with 64.7 per cent in 2013.

The percentage of individuals using the Internet rose from 65.5 per cent in 2013 to 69.3 per cent in 2014. The main uses of the Internet were to find information about goods or services (89 per cent of users) and to send and receive e-mails (73.8 per cent of users). More than a fifth of persons placed online orders for goods and services in the first three months of 2014, principally for clothes and sports goods (60.6 per cent) and travel and accommodation (54.4 per cent).

Domain Names

The University of Cyprus administers domain names under the supervision of the OCECPR. It is the official registrar for the ".cy" top-level domain, which is divided into 13 secondary-level domains, including "ac.cy" for academic and research institutes, "com.cy" for commercial businesses, "gov.cy" for government departments, "net.cy" for Internet service providers, and "org.cy" for non-profit organizations.

Registration of a domain name does not imply reservation of a name or trade mark and, by agreeing to register a name, the University does not evaluate whether registration or use infringes on the rights of third parties. It is the applicant's responsibility to ensure that the name applied for does not conflict with copyright, trade marks, laws of the land, and Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) guidelines, and the University reserves the right to demand evidence at any time confirming non-infringement of such rights.

Domain Name Allocation

The following names will not be accepted for allocation:

  • Domain names already allocated or for which an application is pending;
  • Domain names which do not comply with the rules in effect at the time the application is submitted;1
  • Obscene words and names incorporating offensive language or names that otherwise do not comply with the laws of Cyprus;
  • Names that contravene the laws of Cyprus, international treaties, or ICANN guidelines regarding trade marks, copyrights, and famous names;
  • Domain names shorter than three characters;2 and
  • Domain names that have a dash at the beginning or end of the name.

Footnotes

1 See http://www.nic.cy/domains.

2 Exceptions can be made for organizations (not individuals) that have a two-letter registered trade mark.

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Originally published in The Internet: Laws and Regulatory Regimes – Second Edition

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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