Ukraine’s internet freedom declines - study
Ukraine has fallen from 37th to 38th position in the annual study Freedom on the Net conducted by Freedom House, an independent watchdog organization dedicated to the expansion of freedom and democracy around the world, the Ukrayinska Pravda publication has reported.
Ukraine remains partially free.
The Ukrainian government does not engage in blocking websites or filtering online content, but there cases of restricting access to information and arrest of bloggers and activists.
Internet penetration in Ukraine continues to grow steadily, but it suffers from the heavy economic situation, annexation of Crimea and crisis in the eastern part of the country where infrastructure was damaged.
"Freedom House said that unlike traditional media, access to online content in government-controlled Ukraine remains largely unaffected by the Russian occupation of Crimea and Russian involvement in the conflict in parts of eastern Ukraine, though dozens of Ukrainian websites have been censored in the rebel controlled Donetsk and Luhansk regions," Freedom House said.
"Furthermore, online discussion forums and social media continued to be impacted by partisan voices from both sides, Russian-paid commenting, and self-censorship out of fear," Freedom House said.
Authorities have increasingly cracked down on social media in an attempt to curb anti-Ukrainian rhetoric online, imprisoning users for so-called "separatist" or "extremist" expression.
While physical violence against online commentators has declined overall, a number of troubling instances of violence occurred, including the murder of a renowned independent journalist, Pavel Sheremet, after the coverage period in July 2016.
Furthermore, the security of thousands of journalists was compromised in a leak of a database containing the personal information of accredited journalists reporting in eastern Ukraine. Obviously, this concerns the spreading of the database by the Ukrainian Mirotvorets (Peacemaker) website.
In 2012 and 2013 Ukraine was 27th and 28th in the study.