Statement of Media NGOs Regarding the Requirement to Block Websites According to the Decree of the President of Ukraine #126/2018

On May 14, 2018 the President of Ukraine enacted the decision of the National Security and Defense Council of Ukraine dated May 2, 2018 On Imposing and Canceling Personal Special Economic and Other Restrictive Measures (Sanctions) with his Decree #126/2018. Among other things, the Decree obliges operators and telecommunication companies to restrict access to over 150 websites such as 1tv.com, ria.ru, ren.tv, sputniknews.com, inosmi.ru and so on.

Photo credit: aliestelle, flickr​

The way that is suggested to block these websites — based on the Decree signed by the President, and not the court decision — makes the state of Internet freedom in Ukraine worse and leads to another violation of the rights of users.

We are asking Ukrainian government to abandon the practices of regrettable decisions that do not correspond to democratic practices or international norms. Excessive blocking of websites without the establishment of legal fact of breaking the law and without adhering to proper legal procedures is unacceptable for a democratic European country that Ukraine aspires to be. In our opinion, some of the websites from the new sanction list spread disinformation and fake news, actively take part in the informational war against Ukraine, do not adhere to the standards of journalism, and accordingly pose threat to the freedom of speech. However, when making the decision regarding their blocking, transparent and proportional mechanisms should be used. Namely, the blocking should result from a court decision.

We are asking the President of Ukraine and Ukrainian government to:

  • Review Decree #126/2018 in the part that leads to blocking access to websites;
  • Prioritize court mechanisms in the issues of limiting access to certain websites if the laws of Ukraine are broken;
  • Prior to approving decisions such as signing of the Decree #126/2018, publicly provide motivation and criteria for including websites into the list for blocking, even taking into account the security or sanction arguments;
  • Involve civil society and IT community in consultations and development of decisions that concern the functioning of Internet space and digital rights of users.

NGO “Detector Media”

NGO “Institute of Mass Information”

NGO “Internews Ukraine”

NGO “Regional Press Development Institute”

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