How to Stay Safe on the Internet and Protect Your Digital Rights? Overview of January 15 — February 15, 2018

We regularly monitor incidents and violations of Internet freedom in Ukraine. The results of the monitoring and our analytics are available on our website: netfreedom.org.ua

How to stay safe on the Internet? This month, we have devoted a lot of attention to the issue of Internet safety. We launched animated videos (you can view them here and here) and published a series of Internet Safety infographics with easy-to-understand pieces of advice that will help protect personal data, get used to check information in different sources, and remember about temporary restrictions that are enacted on the Ukrainian web in relation to the war.

LINKS TO ANIMATED VIDEOS — HERE AND HERE

PIECES OF ADVICE FOR INTERNET USERS ARE AVAILABLE HERE

How to protect digital rights? We have visited Vinnytsia with the discussion Digital Rights: Protect or Prosecute? (video). Experts have discussed the changes in understanding of the digital rights and the Internet in general, the challenges that will appear in the nearest future, and whether the Internet will become more available outside the big cities of Ukraine. KEY POINTS OF DISCUSSION

Internet Freedom Incidents

Prosecutor vs investigative journalist. In Cherkasy, criminal proceedings were started against a journalist of a local Internet edition, Kropyva, who wrote (link 1 and link 2) about property of the deputy head of management department at the Cherkasy oblast prosecutor’s office. The prosecutor claims that the journalist published confidential information. MORE

NDSC goes to the SSU because of a journalistic investigation. The NSDC addressed the SSU regarding investigative journalist Oleksandr Dubynskyi allegedly having committed actions with ‘characteristics of high treason.’ The reason is a series of publications where the journalist writes about suspicions about cooperation between the NDSC secretary and Russian secret services. DETAILS

For bias. Pro-presidential blogger Myroslav Oleshko was kicked out of Saakashvili rally. The activists recognized him on Bankova and accused him of bias. Nobody got hurt. MORE HERE

The SSU informed about blocking 31 websites that promote international terrorism. It is mentioned that “terrorist web resources have been unlawfully registered in Ukraine and are administered from other countries.” The list of websites has not been disclosed. READ

The SSU activities regarding Internet freedom for the period between January 15 — February 15:

Odesa — a man was arrested for ‘distribution of anti-Ukrainian materials’ (LINK);

Lviv — the SSU informed about catching a soloist of Lviv Opera and Ballet Theater ‘on separatism’ (LINK);

Bilhorod-Dnistrovskyi — the SSU informed about uncovering the ‘anti-Ukrainian Internet propagandist’ (LINK);

Donetsk oblast — four locals who were transmitting information about location of troops through social networks were uncovered (LINK);

Kyiv, Kyiv oblast, and Cherkasy — the SSU accuses miners of cryptocurrencies in funding the LNR and the DNR (LINK).

Privacy under threat. The media reported that there are two databases with client data from Nova Poshta post service for sale on Darknet, one for 500,000 and another for 18 mln users. The company first said that the database is not valid, but later informed it had turned to cyber police for help. MORE

Trends

Factum Group Ukraine reports that both Russian and Western websites are strengthening their standing in Ukraine. The drop in the number of views of Russian websites (which was also seasonal) in the summer of 2017 created the illusion of an easy victory over Russian Internet resources. However, starting from September, Vk.com, Yandex, Ok.ru, and Mail.ru have gradually improved their standing in Ukraine, according to one of the researchers, Factum Group Ukraine company. Google, YouTube, and Facebook are also becoming more popular, as more and more people in Ukraine started using them over the past half a year. ANALYSIS

The US to help Ukraine in the sphere of cyber security. On February 8, the US House of Representatives has passed a bill on cyber security cooperation with Ukraine. The document is yet to be approved in the Senate and signed by the US President, but there is already a reason to be happy. This is a framework bill, and more details are to be included into it by working groups. EXPERT OPINIONS

4G – coming soon. The three largest mobile operators have closed deals on purchasing licenses for 4G connection. The experts predict that 4G may become available already in the summer 2018. DETAILS

Crimea

For the comment ‘Crimea is Ukraine’. Crimean Tatar activist Suleiman Kadyrov is ‘on trial’ in the annexed Crimea for a comment under a Facebook post. The criminal case was opened in October, 2016. During the court hearing on February 12, 2018, the linguistics expert and the psychology expert from the side of prosecution said that they did not find a call to violate the territorial integrity of Russia in the post, but did see ‘approval’. MORE

Activists are arrested and fined for old posts on social networks. On January 18, the court put Crimean Tatar activist Herai Kulametov in prison for ten days ‘for posting a video in 2012,’ and Kemal Seytyayev was fined for 1000 RUB for saving a song on one of the social networks. READ MORE

Russia

115,706 of separate cases of restricting freedom on Runet in 2017. Russian human rights organization Ahora published a report called Internet Freedom 2017: Creeping Criminalization regarding the situation with freedom in the online sphere in Russia. The statistics for the previous year is upsetting: 1) every day, 244 pages on web were blocked; 2) every six days, a user was attached or threatened; 3) every eight days, the courts made decisions to put Internet users in prison. MORE

Instagram and YouTube may be blocked. This may happen if the services do not delete photographs and videos about private life in response to the lawsuit from the Russian oligarch Oleg Deripaska. Roskomnadzor gave the services time until February 14, 2018, and the deadline has already passed. If they get blocked, some if the users in Russia may be deprived of access to Instagram and YouTube, as not all providers have technical capacity to block separate Internet pages. DETAILS

Three years since prosecution of ‘separatists on the Internet’ started in Russia. The first prosecuted person has been released. This was the head of Tatar Civil Center Rafis Kashapov. After he was released, he was sentenced to another 8 years of administrative supervisio. MORE

Belarus

Trial date set for Ukrainian Radio own correspondent Pavlo Sharoyko. He will be tried for espionage. Pavlo was reporting about Russian and Belarusian joint training, West 2017, that took place very close to the border between Belarus and Ukraine, and the news about Ukrainian citizen Pavlo Hryb, who was kidnapped by the FSB in Belarus. The journalist was arrested almost four months ago. READ MORE

Access to Charter’97, one of the main opposition Internet editions, was blocked. Belarusians lost access to charter97.org  on January 24. In Ukraine, people have free access to Charter’97. MORE

In the previous overview, we summed up the start of 2018 for Internet freedom in Ukraine. 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.”

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