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

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

Are new legislative initiatives viable?

Mobile connection through passport authorization. The Ukrainian State Service for Special Communication and Information Protection offers to obligatory register all users of mobile connection and make all telecommunication companies collect personal data of all users without exceptions. DETAILS

To block websites of Internet shops. Draft law #6754 was introduced to Verkhovna Rada. If passed, it will allow the State Service on Food Safety and Consumer Protection to block websites of Internet shops that infringe rights of consumers. READ MORE

Which stance to take on searches?

Vesti searches. In July, Vesti media was searched. In total, 183 searches in the premises owned by ex-minister Oleksandr Klymenko were carried out (former minister of income and fees in the times of president Yanukovych). READ MORE

New searches at Strana.ua. On August 9, the information about new searches in Strana.ua appeared. The previous searches took place on June 22. Editor-in-chief Igor Guzhva was detained and later released on bail. WAS LAW ENFORCEMENT EFFECTIVE?

Which stance to take on searches? Yuriy Lukanov, a journalist and a former head of the Ukrainian Independent Media Trade Union is thinking about how to retain critical perception of the events and how Ukraine should communicate its position to the international organizations. READ HERE

Crimea and Russian repressions

Sentenced for social networks. A citizen of Sevastopil was sentenced to one year and three months in prison for posts on social networks. Extremism charges were used for this again. MORE

The Internet ‘edited’. Russia adopted a package of laws on banning anonymizers, regulating messengers, and restricting search engines. DETAILS

People protested against restrictions on the Internet. First illegally — the activists of the Left Bloc (READ), and later, under careful supervision of police, everybody who wanted to (REPORT).

Donbas captured by fear

‘Life is more precious than likes’. Activists in Luhansk report about billboards that threaten local population not to write ‘unnecessary’ things on social networks.

Photo by Denys Kazanskyi

We offer recommendations on information security

In August, we presented a handbook How to Improve Information Security in the Time of Conflict. To write a handbook, we held working meetings with the representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the SSU, the Ministry of Information Policy, where they had an opportunity to debate with journalists, representatives of IT community, and international organizations. Our meetings at NGO “Internews Ukraine” were closed.

After that, we held six expert discussions on Internet freedom in oblast capitals — from Ivano-Frankivsk to Kharkiv. Experts in Lviv, Ivano-Frankivsk, Kharkiv, and Vinnytsia discussed primarily security risks, whereas in Odesa and Sviatohirsk they spoke about unlimited freedom of users.

Photo from the presentation of the handbook that took place in UNIAN on August 2. Photo by Oleksandr Synytsia

DOWNLOAD THE HANDBOOK HERE

Why are we working on the issue of information security?

Ukraine’s experience with regulating the Internet in an attempt to protect its information space showed the importance of effective communication on security between all stakeholders of the Internet space.

Firstly, on May 15, 2017 the Decree of the President of Ukraine #133/2017 introduced sanctions against 468 companies and 1228 individuals of the Russian Federation, Yandex and Mail.Ru Group among them. Providers and mobile connection were obliged to block users access to yandex.ru, mail.ru, ok.ru, vk.ru and other websites.

This decision was unexpected for all stakeholders of Ukrainian cyber space, as, in the opinion of the public, it was adopted too quickly and not communicated effectively enough by representatives of the authorities.

Secondly, on June 19, 2017 the Ministry of Information Policy of Ukraine submitted the list of 20 websites recommended for blocking to the SSU, because they “contain information that incites national hatred or infringes the territorial integrity of Ukraine.”

Photo from the presentation of the handbook that took place in UNIAN on August 2. Photo by Oleksandr Synytsia

During the three years of the conflict, the state has kept clear from regulating web content, and the Internet community has failed to overcome the challenges to national security on its own. The expert community has insisted on protecting the freedom of speech and offered to outline the dangers to national security on the Internet clearly, as it would help the citizens to self-regulate without imposing governmental restrictions. However, this did not work out.

Thirdly, in June this year the cyber space was affected by rapid spreading of encryption virus Petya.A. Many experts suggest that it was a planned cyber attack on Ukraine with distinct political motives.

The risks in the sphere of information security have considerably increased for service personnel of the Armed Forces of Ukraine, employees of the SSU, human rights activists, journalists, and bloggers. For them, as well as for everybody else interested in this issue, we have prepared Recommendations on Information Security.

Photo from the presentation of the handbook that took place in UNIAN on August 2. Photo by Oleksandr Synytsia

“This handbook is a great example of cooperation between the state and civil society, where the state and civil society are not competitors, but try to strengthen each other without infringing on each other’s freedom. The recommendations are possible to implement, and we will promote them in other state authority bodies,” State Secretary for the Ministry of Information Policy Artem Bidenko said about our handbook during the presentation.

READ MORE ABOUT THE HANDBOOK HERE

In the previous report, we wrote about the threat of pretrial blocking of websites, which is hanging over Ukraine. The report 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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