What’s New in the Sphere of Internet Freedom in Ukraine? Overview for August 1 – August 31, 2019

In our overview we will tell you: how and why websites are now blocked in Ukraine based on court decisions and what to do about it. Why e-procurement system Prozorro needs ‘white’ hackers. What agreement the US and France reached on special tax for tech giants. New investigation against Facebook: what the Federal Trade Commission suspects the company of this time. Why Twitter will no longer have advertising of state media. And how the users of Facebook, Instagram, and VK influenced the composition of the newly elected Ukrainian Parliament.

We regularly monitor incidents and violations of Internet freedom in Ukraine. You can read the results and analytics on our website: netfreedom.org.ua

Ukraine 

Results of the survey by “Internews Ukraine”

Did Facebook, Instagram, and VK users influence the composition of the new Parliament? The results of the summer investigation by “Internews Ukraine” showed: there is less polarization between Poroshenko and Zelenskyi; Zelenskyi is most discussed, but among the top posts about elections in general and Servant of the People party in particular there is more negative than positive rhetoric. Zelenskyi continues to dominate on Instagram, however Voice (‘Holos’) party also mobilized its audience. In general, negative rhetoric is still more prevalent on Facebook for all parties, and on VK the negative tendencies have strengthened. Read more on our website.

The courts ‘work’. In summer, questionable decisions to block 25 websites were made. In July 2019, Pechersk district court obliged providers to limit access of users to 24 websites, including blogs.korrespondent.net, enigma.ua, informator.news, UkrPress.info, and websites of online casinos. In August, Sviatoshyn district court obliged providers to limit access to one more website. According to lawyers, decisions are weak. Some providers and mobile operators temporarily limited access to some of the resources. Website owners are appealing against the court decision.

White hackers’ will look for weak spots in Prozorro. Among the registered participants, 15 ethical hackers will be selected, who on September 21 will take part in the marathon search for vulnerabilities. Hackers will look for weak spots in text environment, which will have no impact on the system or e-procurement itself. “Cyber attacks become more and more inventive, so we need to act to prevent them,” Vasyl Zadvornyi, CEO of SC “PROZORRO”, thinks.

Will Ukraine enter the digital market of Europe? EU Mission started checking if Ukraine is ready to integrate with the digital market of Europe and mentions the need for the independent regulator in telecommunications. According to the estimations of European experts, Digital single market may bring Europe the additional 415 billion Euro annually, so its development is directed at adaptation of the business environment and different sectors of economy that use digital technology.

Facebook and the World

Photo by ludovic MARIN / AFP

France and the US agreed on special tax for tech giants. Macron promised that France would cancel the special tax when there is the international taxation model and will refund the companies the difference between the French tax and OECD regulation.

Was Facebook’s purchase of WhatsApp and Instagram legal? American regulator suspects the company of having tried to get rid of potential competitors. The Federal Trade Commission will contact the founders of companies and start-ups purchased by Facebook. In the past 15 years, there were about 90 of them, including Instagram and WhatsApp. The investigation may result in order to sell purchased assets or limit the connection of Facebook with these companies.

Photo from open sources

Facebook to explain how it reveals exploitation of children, propaganda of terrorism, and violence. The social network makes these algorithms open so that partners in the field, non-profit organizations and smaller developers could use them to counter harmful content and it could become another level of protection. Facebook will also hire journalists to work on the new news section – News Tab – that will be different from the general feed.

Australia to block websites that broadcast terror attacks. Such mechanism will be introduced in Australia after shooting in Christchurch in New Zealand, where a man killed over 50 people in two mosques while broadcasting it online. The state’s government will also create the center to quickly detect and stop broadcasts with violent scenes.

Twitter prohibits advertising of state media. This way, the company wants to “protect healthy discourse and open conversation.” New policies will not apply to organizations that are funded with taxpayer money, including independent state broadcasters. State media will have 30 days to delete advertising. Twitter will determine which media is controlled by the state based on research by Freedom House, Reporters Without Borders, and other international organizations.

Russia 

Photo from open sources

Roskomnadzor demanded that Google bans advertising of anti-government protests. The regulator demanded that Google stops using YouTube for advertising mass gatherings that took place in Moscow in July and August 2019, and threatened to take measure in case it refuses. In addition, the UN will react to Internet shutdown during protests in Moscow. International human rights group Agora that addressed the UN Special Rapporteurs emphasizes that hundreds of people were arrested, and their personal data published on the web anonymously.

More trash. Roskomnadzor is drafting a law on fines for British media. Aleksandr Zharov, the head of Russian regulator, said that this decision is the response to the fine from British regulator Ofcom that was imposed on Russian propaganda channel, Russia Today. Roskomnadzor plans to impose ‘mirror’ fines to those that are imposed on Russian media abroad.

Read the news on Internet development, Internet freedom and digital rights on our website https://netfreedom.org.ua/

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

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