What Are the Scenarios for Internet Development in Ukraine? Overview for February 15 — March 16, 2018

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

Don’t Expect Good News on Internet Regulation

What are the risks for Internet development in Ukraine? Is the civil society ready to respond to the regulation of the Internet? Will the EU initiatives on regulating the Internet have impact on Ukraine?

On February 22, 2018 Internet Freedom project of NGO “Internews Ukraine” held the conference Challenges of Internet Regulation in Ukraine: Content and Technical Aspects. What to Expect in 2018?

“Until the journalists themselves create effective mechanisms to counter fake news, sponsored articles, including information that works against the interests of national defense and security, dictatorial draft laws will continue to be introduced in the Ukrainian parliament,” Olha Chervakova, MP, First Deputy Head of the Committee for Freedom of Speech and Information Policy. Photo credit: Andriy Kuzmin

During the conference, the experts considered three possible scenarios for Internet regulation in Ukraine: negative, neutral, and positive. PLEASE READ THE CONCLUSIONS IN PART 1 AND PART 2.

“If public institutions and civil society do not initiate and lead the process of creating Internet regulation mechanisms, it will inevitably be done by the state bodies,” Dmytro Zolotukhin, Deputy Minister for Information Policy. Photo credit: Andriy Kuzmin

PLEASE SEE THE VIDEO FROM THE CONFERENCE HERE

Should Websites Be Banned?

Should online media that publish untrue information be restricted in Ukraine? Can security and national interests be the reason for Internet regulation? And where should this regulation end?

On March 15, 2018 there was a discussion in Lviv about challenges for Internet users and their digital rights, Between Freedom and Manipulations. Who and How Protects the Rights of Users on the Internet?

‘In Ukraine, everything currently depends on the judicial reform. If it is carried through, we can develop effective mechanisms to protect the rights of users in the sphere of Internet regulation,” Yaryna Borenko, human rights activist

SEE THE OVERVIEW OF THE DISCUSSION HERE

VIDEO OF THE DISCUSSION HERE

How to Fight Fake News?

Transfer from self-regulation to co-regulation in the media. On February 28, 2018 there was a committee hearing Stop Fake News: Problems of Legislative Regulation of Responsibility for Defamation in the Media. The civil society representatives voiced the opinion about the need for co-regulations — involving state regulation into the media sphere to counter fake news and disinformation.

“In the information sphere, we no longer believe the words. We want photo and video proof. The consequences of such processes may be very serious: we will either degrade to ‘informational Middle Ages’, or bring back the trust in words,” Viktoriya Siumar, the Head of the Committee for Freedom of Speech and Information Policy

THE OVERVIEW OF THE COMMITTEE HEARING

Europe against illegal content. On March 1, the European Commission issued Recommendations on Countering Illegal Content online. The main message is to increase the responsibility of Internet service providers (including hosting providers) for managing content. How is it related to Ukraine? READ HERE

Steps the Government Takes

Threat of excessive control over the Internet. On February 20, 2018 the National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization has approved the draft of the resolution of the Cabinet of Ministers that is aimed to regulate technical inspection of the blocking of the websites from the list of restricted websites. The draft provides “ensuring the purchase of the technical means… to monitor the status of stopping services on access to informational resources… and install the technical means on the communication networks.” 14 NGOs have spoken against such measures.

JOINT STATEMENT OF NGOS ON IMPERMISSIBILITY OF INSTALLING TECHNICAL MEANS OF MONITORING OF THE INTERNET PROVIDERS

New list of websites to be blocked. The Ministry of Information Policy has created a new list of websites (21) to be blocked in Ukraine. It is mentioned that the list has been submitted for review to the expert council at the Ministry. If the result is positive, it will further be submitted to the law enforcement. SEE THE LIST

This is the second list of websites to be blocked made by the Ministry of Information Policy. The first list was compiled in June 2017.

The previous list from the Ministry of Information Policy includes such websites as Russkaya Vesna, News-Front, Novorossiya, Kharkov News Agency, Antifashist, Antimaidan, Lugansk Information Center, Novorossiya Today, Politnavigator, and the others. The most visited of them was Russkaya Vesna, with over 20 mln views a month. SEE THE PREVIOUS LIST

The actions of law enforcement in the sphere of Internet freedom for the period of February 15 — March 16

Kyiv city, Dnipropetrovsk, Lviv, Zakarpattia, Mykolayiv, and Odesa oblasts — searches of people who are ‘helping Russia to organize anti-Ukrainian protests.’ LINK

Kyiv — searches in the IT sector: Cogniance company, as well as ‘about ten other firms.’ LINK

Chernihiv — the activities of the administrator of anti-Ukrainian groups on social networks stopped. LINK

Kyiv — two administrators of anti-Ukrainian groups on social networks uncovered. LINK

Luhansk area — informer of the ‘LNR’ militants and social media propagandist jailed for 4.7 years. LINK

Kyiv — report about obstructing the activities of journalists who were covering the clashes under Verkhovna Rada on March 3. LINK

Crimea

30 Ukrainian news websites blocked. In March, Crimean human rights group checked the accessibility of Ukrainian news websites in Kerch, Simferopol, Sevastopol, Bilohorsk, and Yalta. It turned out that 30 Ukrainian websites are blocked in different ways. Some of them with a reference to Roskomnadzor requirements, but to most of the website it is just impossible to connect. DETAILS

Two years of probation with a ban from public activities. On March 1, Feodosiya city court, controlled by the Kremlin, announced a sentence for Crimean Tatar activist Suleiman Kadyrov for a comment on Facebook saying ‘Crimea is Ukraine.’ DETAILS

For comments on Vkontakte. Ukrainian activist Ihor Movenko who is accused of extremism for his comments on Vkontakte was interrogated in Crimea. The pressure started back in December 2016. In April 2017, he was charged according to pt.2 Art. 280 of the Criminal Code of Russian Federation (public calls to perform extremist actions). Ukrainian citizen is under travel restrictions. MORE

More highlights in English

Threat to the Internet governance in Ukraine. On Feb 27, 2018, representatives of Internet Association of Ukraine published online the сopy of draft law on implementation of Convention of Cybercrimes. The draft law introduces some restrictive measures to regulate Internet. READ DETAILS

Emphasizing the most important trends. We have prepared short outlines (Eng) on netfreedom’s tendencies, challenges and threats in Ukraine for each month of 2017 and the beginning of 2018.

Read highlights here:

A Month after Signing the ‘Sanction’ Decree That Blocks Russian Websites

Playing with Fire. Ukraine under the Threat of Pretrial Blocking of Websites

Will the Internet Be Free in Ukraine? Overview of the Month and Recommendations

Legislation to Regulate the Internet on Verkhovna Rada’s Agenda

Will There Be a Cyber Security System in Ukraine?

Half a Year after ‘Blocking.’ Overview of the Month

How the Digital Rights of Users Are Regulated in Ukraine?

What was the beginning of Year 2018 for Internet Freedom? Overview

How to Stay Safe on the Internet and Protect Your Digital Rights?

More highlights are available HERE.

 

In the previous overview, we were discussing how to stay safe on the Internet and protect your digital rights. It 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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