Publication

Ukrainians prepare for censorship in the Internet

“The fight against child pornography” is a well-known catchphrase. Endeavours to restrict the spread and access to child pornography and increase criminal liability are entirely warranted. However when one looks at the amendments proposed for the Law “On telecommunications”, one has the impression that they will counter not merely the circulation of child pornography, but access to information in general.

The changes stated that “operators and telecommunication providers shall restrict the access of their customers to resources which spread unlawful information content in accordance with a court order.” Yet the norm does not directly stipulate which information shall be on restricted access. The lack of definition of the terms “unlawful information content” and “content” make it possible for the authorities to selectively and subjectively decide just what they are.

The draft law does not stipulate that access is limited ONLY to child pornography. Thus if the government considers some kind of information unlawful, it can restrict access to it with no obstruction.

The faulty wording of this norm will effectively make it possible to restrict access not only to child pornography, but to any information on the Internet. As case law shows, imprecise norms of a law lead to its being used by officials and the authorities to the detriment of the individual’s interests. Norms must be clear and comprehensible and formulated so that there can be no equivocation as to their meaning.
The introduction of this norm in such a version can be seen as an attempt to establish censorship on the Internet, this being in contravention of Article 15 of the Constitution prohibiting censorship. The scope provided for restricting access to any information on the Internet violates the constitutional right to information.

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