Reference point. Summing up trends in Internet freedom after the sanction decree against the Russian companies
A year ago, on May 15, 2017, Petro Poroshenko signed Decree #133/2017 on introducing sanctions against Russian companies that lead to blocking a number of Russian online services. Since that time, we have been monitoring the attempts to regulate the Internet, including under the premise of protecting national security interests.
We have prepared the monitoring of key incidents and trends in the sphere of Internet freedom from September 2017 until April 2018. We have analyzed the statistics of arrests of users for crimes in the online space, identified key trends, and traditionally cite the key incidents.
Facebook is an effective way of informing about violations in the sphere of Internet freedom
We have obtained part of the information for our monitoring from Facebook, that during 2017 and early 2018 often served as the first and main channel for spreading information about various kinds of violations regarding Internet freedom. The examples of users alerting their communities about incidents are available HERE.
How to protect the rights of Internet users? Discussion in Odesa
The state should be looking not only for technological, but also for social and media decisions. On April 20, 2018, the team of Internet Freedom project visited Odesa to hold the discussion about challenges for Internet users and their digital rights. The discussion topics included protection of personal data and the defining the most pressing current state Internet regulation challenges in Ukraine. READ KEY POINTS
Informational security discourse. New initiatives in Ukraine
Not allow stricter rules. On April 18, 2018, the head of Verkhovna Rada committee on national security and defense Serhiy Pashynskyi initiated preparing changes to legislation that provide for responsibility, including criminal responsibility, for sharing untrue information that undermines defense capacity of Ukraine. This happened after Novoye Vremya edition published a journalistic investigation on violations in the defense sphere. Ukroboronprom company plans to sue over the edition over this publication. Media experts are calling journalists not to allow stricter rules. READ MORE
Oleksandr Turchynov’s initiative. On May 9, 2018, the Secretary of the Council of National Security and Defense of Ukraine Oleksandr Turchynov send an open letter to the Security Service of Ukraine because of the broadcasting of the ‘military parade’ from the occupied Ukrainian territories by some Ukrainian media. According to the information from journalists, the online media may include Korespondent, bigmir)net, sde.in.ua, reporter-ua.com. In response, the SSU informed that it would review the request. DETAILS
Searches in RIA Novosti and arrest of the head of the news agency. On May 15, 2018, the SSU carried out searches in RIA Novosti news agency and arrested its head Kiril Vyshynskyi. He was charged according to Pt.1 Art.111 (state treason) of the Criminal Code of Ukraine. The US said that they understand Ukraine’s actions, but are urging the authorities to ‘follow legislation.’ DETAILS
The Internet needs protection from Russian influence. During Kyiv security forum in April, the president of Ukraine Petro Poroshenko offered to develop legislative initiatives to counter Russia’s intervention in the elections, by using the experience of European countries. Is it really the best way for Ukraine? KEY POINTS
Website blocking. More precedents
A new case of blocking websites after a court decision. On April 19, a court in Lviv oblast obliged 22 largest (in the opinion of the applicant) Internet providers and operators to block access to three websites on the territory of Ukraine. The decision to block mmgp.ru, ScamQuestra.com, and Prochukhan.org was made by the court based on the claim that these websites share information that violates personal non-property rights of the applicant. MORE
Local blocking of Irpen Pravda website. On May 10, the editors of the edition spoke about blocking of their website by local Internet provider, Best, after they published a series of articles with criticism against the owner of the provider company. Indeed, irpin.news website was down at the time. According to the journalists, “after several appeals to different organizations from the editors of the website and NGOs, in particular, “Union of Journalists of Kyiv Region” NGO, the website was unblocked on May 16.
At the same time, it is known that irpin.news website is controlled by the infamous mayor of Irpin, Volodymyr Karpiuk. The texts on the website are anonymous, not signed by surnames of journalists. The website is also known for its attacks on local activists who oppose Karpiuk. DETAILS OF THE INCIDENT
The actions of law enforcement in the sphere of Internet freedom in the period between March 16 — April 16:
According to the information from the law enforcement:
Kyiv — the SSU banned Russian video blogger and stand-up comedian Danylo Poperechnyi from entering Ukraine for three years. LINK
Lviv — Cyber police informed about identifying a student who created and sold viruses. LINK
Ukraine — The SSU announced that it prevented the provocations of Russian special services on social network before May holidays. LINK
Kyiv — cyber police offered help to the new website of the Ministry of Energy that was hacked. The operation of the new website has not been restored, and users are forwarded to the previous website of the Ministry. LINK
Kyiv — The SSU is checking whether an article on Novoye Vremya has revealed a state secret. LINK
In April and May 2018 a number of incidents took place in Crimea. A court controlled by Russia found activist Ihor Movenko guilty of ‘public calls for extremist activity’ and sentenced him to two years in prison for several comments on the group ‘Crimea Is Ukraine’ on Vkontakte. DETAILS
Activist Yevhen Karakashev who together with a group of left activists organized a meeting to support of Crimean political prisoners Oleh Sentsov and Oleksandr Koltchenko in 2016. On May 7, 2018, the court declined the appeal to the decision to prolong the arrest during a closed session. MORE
Also, on April 18, 2018, the court decided to prolong arrest for Crimean Tatar Ismayil Ramzanov who is accused of expremism propaganda through an Internet radio. PROCEED TO NEWS
In the previous overview, we discussed new precedents in the sphere of Internet freedom: blocking of websites, communication from the SSU, and legislative initiatives. The overview is available here.
The overview has been written by NGO “Internews Ukraine” as part of implementing the project Internet Freedom in Ukraine: Supporting the Principles of Freedom of Speech and Security in the Time of Conflict.”