What’s New in Internet Freedom in Ukraine? Overview for May 25 – June 25, 2019

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. Please, note, most of the links refer to content published in Ukrainian.

Ukraine

Photo: Kateryna Kruk/Facebook

Facebook appointed the manager for Ukraine for the first time. Kateryna Kruk, expert on disinformation, took the position of Facebook manager for Ukraine on May 27, 2019. She will work in Facebook’s Warsaw office. The duties of the manager for Ukraine include monitoring of legislation and regulations that impact Facebook in Ukraine, informing on development of new products and policies, communicating the company’s viewpoint at public events and in the media, and represent Facebook in Ukraine during meetings with politicians, government officials, and regulators.

The Cabinet of Ministers made the final decision to exclude NCCIR from the list of licensing authorities. On June 12, the government excluded the National Commission for the State Regulation of Communications and Informatization from the list of licensing authorities. This means final cancellation of licensing of activities in the sphere of telecommunications.

The Ukrainian Army informs of new informational attacks by Russia. After the inauguration of the president of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelenskyi, the spread of fake materials became more active, as well as informational attacks by Russia aimed at discreditation of the top officials of the Ukrainian Army, disinformation of the society and the international community in general. The Ukrainian Army also said that fake news by Russia are already being shared by Ukrainian media, which is “particularly dangerous in the circumstances of political battles before the parliamentary election.” The Army calls for checking information and not spreading fake news.

475 million Euro. Ukraine became the leader by Internet advertising market growth – study. European Interactive Advertising Bureau presented the study that shows that Ukraine not only made the rating for the first time, but also is on top of it by the speed of Internet advertising market growth. Ukrainian market for Internet advertising showed the most significant growth compared to other European countries. Next come Russia, Belarus, Czech Republic, and Serbia.

Facebook and the World

What is digital interdependence in the modern world? – main ideas of the UN report on Internet and technology. UN’s June report on Internet and technology titled The Age of Digital Interdependence was presented during #EuroDig2019 forum in Hague. The report on ‘digital cooperation’ and social, ethical, legal, and economic impact of digital technology was initiated by UN Secretary General. Read more about key points of the report and goals on inclusion of users, human rights, institutional policy and global digital cooperation on our website.

Photo from open sources

Spy games: how Huawei, the technological giant, became #1 threat for the US. Chinese company Huawei is viewed in the US as the key source of threat in cybersecurity. The White House is pushing for sanctions against the company, but gives American companies the time to stop using Huawei’s services. How the problems with Huawei in the US started, which impact this will have on the global market and how it will influence Ukraine, read on our website.

Three billion – this is the number of fake accounts that Facebook deleted in half a year. Between October 2018 and March 2019, over 3 billion fake accounts that were spreading disinformation and spam were deleted from the social network. Facebook informs that in the past half a year the number of fake accounts that are created has considerably increased. For instance, out of the 2.4 billion new active profiles every month, 5% may be fake. In addition, in the first quarter of 2019, Facebook employees deleted 4 million of hate messages.

Facebook presents Libra cryptocurrency – the US Congress asks to delay launch. On June 18, 2019, Facebook presented Libra, the crypocurrency, in test mode. Users will be able to use it full-scale starting in 2020. A separate Swiss organization, Libra Association, was created to manage Libra. However, Maxine Waters, the head of the Committee on Financial Services in the US Congress House of Representatives, asks to delay the launch of the cryptocurrency. Waters says: Libra should be checked before it is launched, because previously Facebook had instances of user data leaks.

Heads of Google must divide company regardless of the antimonopoly committee decision – activists. An American group that fights the increasing power of corporations, SumOfUs, during the annual meeting of Alphabet that belongs to Google asked to divide the corporation and sell some of the assets regardless of the decision of the antimonopoly investigation that was initiated by the US Department of Justice in June. However, this suggestion will not be accepted, as two top managers of Alphabet — Larry Page and Sergey Brin — hold the majority (51.3%) of the votes. The activists are concerned with the amount of power Alphabet has, and believe that constant pressure may change the situation.

“Corporate accountability index 2019”: Internet giants should be more proactive in consumer rights protection. Experts of the project Ranking Digital Right (RDR) published the new Corporate Accountability Index. The study showed that new regulations in the US and other counties impacted the improvement of policies on consumers data processing. However, even the corporations that became the leaders of Index should work on transparency of information on introduction of new technologies and risks related with advertising targeting.

Information about social networks to be provided to receive visa to the US. Starting from May 31, the State Department introduced new rules for receiving American visas. From now on, almost all candidates for an American visa will have to provide information about their accounts on social networks, email addresses, and phone numbers for the past five years. According to the estimations of the State Department, the new rules will impact 14.7 people annually.

Social network access limited in Kazakhstan on June 12. International group NetBlocks that monitors Internet freedom around the world said that on June 9, the day of preterm presidential election, and the day of inauguration, access to social networks Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp was limited in Kazakhstan. In addition, websites of human rights organizations and media were blocked, and there were also problems with mobile network in Nur-Sultan, the capital of Kazakhstan. The president Kassym-Jomart Tokayev told the journalists he was ‘not aware’ about blocking of social networks on election day.

Russia

“There is currently no dialogue with Facebook” – head of Roskomnadzor. According to Aleksandr Zharov, the head of Roskomnadzor, the regulator cannot establish dialogue with Facebook, although the state shows that it is ready to find solutions regarding localization of data of Russian users on the territory of Russia. He also said that the company provides services to tens of millions of Russians, so the regulator is ready not to administer sanctions until the situation “does not involve real threat to national, corporate, or personal security.”

Photo: AFP 

Russia and China signed a joint agreement on Internet regulation. The presidents of Russia and China, Vladimir Putin and Xi Jinping, agreed to strengthen partnership not only in the political, security, humanitarian sphere, international relations, but also in informational space. In addition, during the visit of the president of China to Russia, an agreement to launch 5G in Russia was signed between Chinese technological giant Huawei and Russian company MTC.

The overview has been written by NGO “Internews Ukraine”.

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