Sunday, 15 December 2019

Young People Encounter Hate Speech Online Every Day

ZAGREB, December 15, 2019 - The public sphere, notably the Internet, is full of discriminatory and hate speech, which mostly affects young people as they encounter it almost on a daily basis on social media, news portals and forums, a round table heard earlier this week.

"We are aware that inappropriate and hate speech both online and offline is increasingly present and it in particular affects young people. They are often the victims of hate speech and discriminatory speech but they also resort to it," Human Rights Ombudswoman Lora Vidović said.

Young people are connected as no previous generation and some Internet users are encouraged by apparent anonymity, i.e. by not being directly in contact with the interlocutor.

The causes of such behaviour are complex, one being the lack of perception of the far-reaching consequences of such speech, i.e. the feelings it elicits in other people and protection mechanisms, according to Vidović.

"We must see how to turn the situation around and encourage positive narratives, how to utilise the knowledge young people have in order to define new policies, solutions, algorithms, perhaps even new laws to change the situation."

Young people must be part of all changes, social, political, economic and climate, and this has also been recognised by the UN, which has dedicated this year's Human Rights Day to youth, Vidović said.

Deputy Human Rights Ombudswoman Tena Šimonović Einwalter presented the findings of a national survey on hate speech which the Human Rights Ombudswoman's Office conducted in cooperation with the IPSOS agency among people aged 18-30.

The survey shows that they mainly use Instagram, share videos and photos, and one segment, mainly older respondents and men, comment on social media and portals.

According to the respondents, hate speech is extensively present in the physical public sphere in the form of graffiti and posters, at political gatherings, on TV and radio.

Hate speech is even more present in comments on social media, news portals, forums, Viber, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and Snapchat which, according to Šimonović Einwalter, begs the question - has intolerant speech become part of the communication among youth given that texting services are used mainly by acquaintances and friends?

As many as 96% of young people said they had encountered hate speech over the past three months. About one-third of respondents encounter hate speech almost daily on social media, news portals and forums.

Hateful or intolerant comments are mainly based on ethnicity, sexual orientation, physical appearance, religion and gender. The survey shows that 44% of young persons have been the target of hate speech.

Young people who received hate comments felt sad, humiliated, afraid, threatened and ashamed, yet 68% have not reported them to anyone, although 92% believe such comments can hurt their targets.

Most of the respondents believe regulations on the Internet are too weak and that there is too much hate speech.

Croatia and Europe are recording an increase in social polarisation and hate speech, said Tatjana Katkić Stanić of the Ministry of Demography, Family, Youth and Social Policy.

"The Internet, unfortunately, is a very powerful medium in which not only youth, but adults as well, use pseudonyms to express intolerance towards those who are in any way different."

Essential for resolving the problems are inter-departmental cooperation and especially education, with programmes and workshops that should begin from the earliest age, while at the same time working with parents.

More news about children in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 8 December 2019

Fewer Computers in Croatian Households, Mobile Internet Usage Up

ZAGREB, December 8, 2019 - Seventy-four percent of Croatian households have computers, two percentage points less than in 2018, while 81% have broadband Internet access, the national statistical office (DZS) has said.

The DZS conducted a phone survey on the use of information and communication technologies in 2019, covering 2,700 persons aged 16-74.

Of the households which did not have Internet access this year, 66% said the reason was that they did not need it, 46% said they did not know enough about it, 36% cited the high prices of the service and 35% the price of the equipment, while 3% said Internet was not available at their location.

Of the 81% of households which have Internet access, all have broadband, up one percentage point from 2018, and 70% access the Internet via mobile devices, up four percentage points on the year. Landline Internet connections dropped one percentage point to 87%.

Persons aged 16-54, students and people with jobs, are the biggest computers and Internet users.

Online shopping is also on the rise, by 10% from 2018, with 45% of respondents doing it. As in previous years, they mainly bought clothes and sporting equipment, household necessities, electronic equipment and cameras, while buying films, music, food, medication and software the least.

More IT news can be found in the Business section.

Thursday, 5 September 2019

German-Based IoT Company Investing in Business, Jobs in Croatia

ZAGREB, September 5, 2019 - The Aconno company from Germany that specialises in IoT technology and products intends to invest more than €250,000 in Croatia over the next few months and open offices in Zagreb and Osijek that will employ about a dozen people, it was said at a presentation of the company in Zagreb on Wednesday.

The company is seated in Dusseldorf and these will be its first offices abroad. Its core business is IoT technology which is related to connecting apparatuses to cloud via the internet and is becoming more and more prevalent in life-style and business operations.

Aconno quickly developed from a start-up to doing business around the world. In the second year of its operations, in 2016, it generated a revenue of 400,000 euro, in 2018 that increased to 800,000 euro and this year the company expects a revenue of €1 million euro, Aconno's CEO Miroslav Šimudvarac said.

Šimudvarac is a Croat, originally from Vukovar. This contributed to the decision that the company's first expansion outside of Germany be in Croatia, he and Thomas Hollwedel, with whom he launched the company, said, as did the fact that they have come across some very talented and capable young IT experts, programmers and developers in Croatia and very quickly agreed on doing business together.

We intend to employ an additional 70 people in the future with attractive wages because we see talented people here with a lot of know-how and skills that we need, Hollwedel said.

He underlined Croatia's advantages of being close to European markets as well as having a developed ICT sector and kind people. He added, however, that in the process of launching the company in Croatia they were faced with numerous administrative and bureaucratic obstacles.

Šimudvarac said that since being launched the company has invested about 1.2 million euro in developing its business and that IoT (Internet of Things-Internet) isn't just about software but also products and hardware, sensors, chips and so on.

More news about investments in Croatia can be found in the Business section.

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

ICT Expert Says Level of Internet Use in Croatia Not Worrying

ZAGREB, August 28, 2019 - ICT expert Marko Rakar says the data showing that more than one in five Croatians have never used the Internet are not especially worrying as it makes sense that there are people, notably older ones, without access to or the need for the Internet.

A recently published Zagreb Institute of Economics analysis and data of the European Commission's Digital Economy and Society Index show that 21% of Croatians have never used the Internet, whereas the EU average is 11%.

When it comes to the use of Internet services, Croatia is within the EU average. As many as 91% of Croatian Internet users read news online, as against 72% in the rest of the EU.

Sixty-two percent of people who do not use the Internet are older than 65 and 34% of those in the 55-64 age group have never used it.

Rakar says one of the reasons why the Internet is not used is the number of people who are older, have lower education and are poorer. The fact that Croatia has more smartphones than inhabitants suggests that a large number of people do not even realise they use the Internet, he adds, noting that anyone watching cable TV, for example, uses the Internet.

According to national statistical office (DZS) data from December 2018, 82% of households in Croatia have Internet access. Rakar says this means that practically everyone in Croatia has it, as those without it either have a smartphone, and therefore have unregistered Internet access, or can access it elsewhere.

He says there are rural areas and islands without or with poor Internet connection, but the state is investing in fixing that and subsidising the construction of telecommunication networks there.

A DZS survey shows that 57% of respondents who do not have an Internet connection cited no need to use the Internet, a considerable number cited too high service and equipment prices, insufficient knowledge about Internet use, concern for the protection of privacy, and available access at another location.

Rakar says Croatia should not be compared with Denmark, for example, where only 2% of inhabitants have never used the Internet, because of their different economies, histories and infrastructure.

Asked if there is a link between the digitisation of bureaucratic services which citizens use and the interest of the elderly in the Internet, he says there is.

"The digital services the state promotes are not digital services at all, just a bureaucratic service working on the screen. That's not the point of digitisation. A real digital society... looks at all the needs of citizens, businesses, the state and everything else and then does all the processes in the most simple and most automated way so they are available to everyone, and we are just not doing that."

Croatia is behind most EU member states in the digitisation of public services and surveys show that its business community uses the Internet less than the rest of the EU. Rakar says computer literacy in 2019 is essential for any competitiveness, not just the state and businesses, but individuals too.

"A person who hasn't mastered at least basic computer skills is cut off in the digital world. They can no longer communicate because everyone communicates via the Internet on social media and apps. Another problem is keeping informed, as they can no longer see what happens around them," Rakar says, adding that elementary computer skills are essential to any job in the 21st century.

More IT news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 26 August 2019

20% of Croats Have Never Used Internet

ZAGREB, August 26, 2019 - As many as 21% of Croatia's population has never used the Internet, as against 11% in the whole of the European Union, the Jutarnji List daily wrote on Monday describing this statistics for Croatia as alarming.

The daily newspaper quotes the findings of the European Commission's Digital Economy and Society Index (DESI).

DESI is a composite index that summarises relevant indicators on Europe’s digital performance and tracks the evolution of EU member states in digital competitiveness, also shows that there are still large disparities across EU member-states regarding the use of internet services

For instance, in Croatia every fifth citizen has never used Internet services as against a mere 2% in Denmark.

Broken down by age, all in the age cohort up to 25 years in Croatia use the Internet. Internet use is widespread among Croatians aged between 25 and 34, and a mere 1% of the Croatians in this age cohort have never used the Internet, however, 62% of Croatians aged above 65 have never been online, the Jutarnji List daily writes.

"Over the past year, all EU countries improved their digital performance. Finland, Sweden, the Netherlands, and Denmark scored the highest ratings in DESI 2019 and are among the global leaders in digitalisation. These countries are followed by the United Kingdom, Luxembourg, Ireland, Estonia, and Belgium. Some other countries however still have a long way to go, and the EU as a whole needs improvement to be able to compete on the global stage, " the Commission has said while presenting the latest DESI index for 2019.

More IT news can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Tuesday, 26 March 2019

Internet Is the Main Source of Information in Croatia

ZAGREB, March 26, 2019 - The Internet is the main source of information for most Croatian citizens and is chosen as the most trusted media, an online survey of media habits shows.

The survey, conducted by the Ipsos market research agency in collaboration with the 24sata daily, covered slightly over 1,000 people.

A total of 78 percent of respondents said that the Internet is their main source of information, and 92 percent said they use it several times a day. Those surveyed said they spend about four hours online daily on weekdays, and more at weekends, with almost all age group saying they go online to use email; 82 percent said they do so to seek useful information and 81 percent to inform themselves about current events. Apart from email, more than 79 percent use Messenger for communication.

The survey found that older people use the Internet to seek useful information and for online shopping, while younger people use it to visit social networks, watch videos and listen to music.

The YouTube video sharing website is among the most popular, being used by as many as 93 percent of those polled. Respondents said they spend most of the time on Facebook (24.6 percent of them over two hours daily) to communicate with their friends and family.

The dominance of the Internet among the media in Croatia is also confirmed by the fact that as many as 88 percent of respondents said that they find information online that is not available anywhere else, and 57 percent said they trust the Internet the most, twice as much as television.

Some 54 percent consider the Internet the most reliable media, while 28.2 percent said so about television.

Over 70 percent of respondents said they follow the media to stay informed, 62.3 percent do so as part of their daily routine, and 59 percent use the media to find explanations of events affecting their lives. Some 70 percent follow news websites, 35.6 percent read print editions, and 23 percent use mobile applications.

More news about media in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Monday, 25 February 2019

One in Four Children Victim of Cyber Bullying

ZAGREB, February 25, 2019 - An expert conference was held in Zagreb earlier this week on the unacceptable behaviour of young people on social media and the Internet, hearing the challenges experts face in everyday work with children and youth as a result of their use of digital technologies, because of which one in three children in Croatia is exposed to inappropriate content and abuse, while many are exposed to cyber bullying.

The conference was organised by the association of judges for youth and families and experts on children and youth. It brought together about 100 social workers, educators, judges, psychologists, prosecutors, police, attorneys, teachers, physicians and representatives of government and non-governmental organisations.

Zagreb County Court judge Lana Peto Kujundžić said the development of ICT was a big challenge due to new forms of computer crime which was global and transnational in character. She underlined the need for as much education as possible.

Zagreb Municipal Court judge Dijana Rizvić said sexual abuse over the Internet had much harder consequences on victims than immediate crimes because they were additionally exposed to the public. She said youth were also threatened by Internet fraud and that the rise in cyber crimes was also due to the increasing computer literacy of youth.

Rizvić said the triggers of virtual crime could be boredom, making illegal gains, imprudence and reactions to social events. She underlined the importance of mediation instead of the criminal prosecution of youth and the adoption of a good law on unacceptable behaviour on the Internet.

Tomislav Ramljak, the only digital forensic examiner in Croatia and president of the Centre for Missing and Abused Children, said over 95% of children in Croatia had Internet access and that one in three were exposed to inappropriate content and abuse.

Ivo Jakić of the Interior Ministry said the Internet was responsible for the rise in crime. He said it was a medium with which children spent the most time and that some of them behaved imprudently because they were unaware of the consequences, revealing private information and sending inappropriate photos.

Jakić underlined the importance of raising awareness and said that 25% of children in Croatia had been victims of cyber bullying, while 75% had witnessed it.

Irena Rojnić Palavra and Ana Rakić, psychiatrists working in a Zagreb hospital for the treatment of Internet and video game addiction, said excessive computer use could have social, psychological-psychiatric and even physical consequences.

They said video games, social media and pornographic content had the biggest potential for creating addiction. Rojnić Palavra said few decided to undergo treatment and that this was due to insufficient information, fear of stigmatisation, the social acceptance of such behaviour and the fact that the consequences are less noticeable than with alcohol or drug addiction.

More news on children issue in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Sunday, 27 January 2019

Foreign Online Betting Sites Will Have to Register in Croatia

The Croatian Ministry of Finance is working on a legal regulation that would force foreign online betting sites to legalise their business in Croatia or cease operations. This would include all international betting sites, which offer online gambling services to Croatian gaming enthusiasts, reports Jutarnji List on January 27, 2019.

For a country like Croatia, whose public finances are always in trouble, it sounds unbelievable that the government is not taxing an industry worth up to two billion kuna a year, which is the estimated value of the online betting business in Croatia. The problem of the non-taxing of online gambling providers is not just a consequence of the reluctance of tax authorities to deal with this issue. The control and blocking of web betting sites should also include other institutions, such as Carnet and the State Attorney's Office, and even the courts which are the only ones that can enforce the prohibition of business activities.

At the level of entrepreneurial freedom, what betting sites are doing is similar to tactics used by Amazon, Apple or Google on the European Union market, where they try to take advantage of under-regulation, risking enormous fines. Amazon, for example, recently paid 282 million euro in penalties for tax evasion in Luxembourg, following a European Commission's action against it.

Advocates of the current situation in the sports betting market believe that fees for betting and related winnings are already too high and unjust, so it is quite acceptable for some players to turn to online betting. In addition to the manipulative costs of five per cent of the amount paid, which legal betting agents must charge for all tickets, players pay a minimum of ten per cent tax on their payouts, which increases up to a maximum of 30 per cent of winnings of over 500,000 kuna.

The usual reason for the inclusion of internet service is that it breaks state monopoly in the market, but in the case of sports betting this is not true since the two largest legal betting chains in Croatian market, Super Sport and Hattrick-PSK, are privately-owned.

There is also another issue. While gamblers using the services of legal betting shops on the internet must register so that it can be determined whether they are over 18, underage users can access the betting services more easily with the providers who have not aligned themselves with the local regulations.

More news on the online betting industry in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Translated from Jutarnji List (reported by Vedran Marjanović).

Friday, 25 January 2019

Foreign Betting Sites to Be Blocked in Croatia?

ZAGREB, January 25, 2019 - Finance Minister Zdravko Marić said on Friday the only reason for introducing the possibility of blocking websites was the unfair competition of foreign online betting sites which pay no taxes on their services.

Unlike domestic online betting sites, international ones pay neither a business fee nor profit tax given that they are not registered in Croatia, and players, i.e. citizens, do not pay taxes on their winnings, Marić said at a conference on the impact of the tax policy on innovation and development.

That's why, in the rules on the implementation of the General Tax Act, which is in public consultation, the Finance Ministry has proposed the possibility of blocking access to websites used for prohibited business operations and tax evasion.

"If someone has a certain business operation in Croatia, not paying any taxes and creating unfair competition, the Tax Administration can initiate blocking a certain IP address, Marić said.

Helena Schmidt of Deloitte, one of the organisers of the conference, said amending tax laws was not enough to change the economic situation and that young people would not stay in a country without prospects.

She said that in 2000 Ireland had one million less inhabitants than today and that it now had the youngest population in Europe. The net of a gross Irish salary of 2,000 euro is 1,700, she added.

More news on the internet issues in Croatia can be found in the Lifestyle section.

Friday, 28 September 2018

Online Anti-Corruption Tool Presented

ZAGREB, September 28, 2018 - Representatives of the GONG election monitoring NGO on Friday presented the Mosaic of Connections, an online tool for researching connections between politically prominent persons as well as their connections with other legal and physical persons via information from public authorities' registers and data bases. As of today, the tool is available at

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