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Ukrainian MP Pushes for Carbon Copy Of Russian Blogger Law, Meets Resistance

Images mixed by Tetyana Lokot.

Images mixed by Tetyana Lokot.

Ukrainian Internet users were in for an unpleasant surprise at the end of last week when a member of the Ukrainian parliament suggested bloggers in Ukraine should be required to verify information in their posts and disclose their personal data to the authorities.

Vasyl Petyovka, an MP from Western Ukraine who got into parliament through a majority constituency vote, submitted a draft amendment to the law on information on February 12. The amendment seeks to regulate online blogger activity and imposes a host of restrictions on Internet users.

Petyovka has decided to “regulate bloggers,” because “you all write all kinds of things in your Internets”! Here's the scoop.

Journalists and social media users were immediately alarmed with the amendment and its suggestions. Among other things, the draft defines a “blogger” as an “owner of a website and/or a webpage on the Internet that publishes mass information.” Essentially, any Internet user could fall under that description.

Petyovka's draft amendment insists there is too much unverified information online, so all bloggers should be held responsible for fact-checking and verifying any information they publish, just like mainstream mass media.

The amendment also suggests censoring profanity in Ukrainian blogs, and banning bloggers from “using their website to conceal information of public importance,” though the MP does not offer any explanation as to what that information could be or how a blog or site could be used to “hide” information.

Finally, the draft amendment requires bloggers to publish their full names and electronic addresses on their pages, so that government officials or law enforcement could easily get in touch.

Understandably, many Ukrainian Internet users saw striking similarities between Petyovka's suggestions and a certain blogger law that has already come into force in Russia.

The deputy is Ukrainian, but the law is Russian.

All through the weekend, the Ukrainian blogosphere was roiling with discussions and condemnations of the blogger amendment, with users speaking their mind in the comments to news stories, on Twitter and on Facebook.

Apparently, the strong words users had for the MP and the level of attention from mainstream media had their toll on Vasyl Petyovka. On February 16 he announced he was withdrawing the draft amendment. The MP said his intent was not to restrict the activity or rights of bloggers and claimed he only wanted to protect the Ukrainian web from provocations and disinformation coming from “fake bloggers and Kremlin bots,” at whom the draft was supposedly aimed.

Я не можу не зважати на громадську думку. Якщо юристи, експерти, журналісти вбачають в цьому законопроекті загрозу для свободи слова, значить він не повинен потрапити до сесійної зали і стати законом. Саме тому, цей документ буде відкликано мною з Верховної Ради.

I can't ignore the public opinion. If lawyers, experts, journalists see the draft amendment as a threat to freedom of speech, then it shouldn't go to the Parliament and become a law. This is why I'm going to withdraw the draft from the Verkhovna Rada.

Social media users remained skeptical of Petyovka's real intent, but praised the online community for their quick reaction and credited the social media buzz for the amendment's withdrawal.

Petyovka has withdrawn the draft amendment, copied word for word from the Russist [Russian] blogger law.
Friends, together we're powerful. Thank to everyone for participating.

The Ukrainian government has had a difficult time making information policy decisions while engaged in a military confrontation with Russian and pro-Russian forces in the East, and an information war with Russia. At the end of last year, the creation of a new Ministry of Information Policy was questioned by the public, who dubbed it the “Ministry of Truth.” As Ukraine struggles with issues of censorship, propaganda, and information security, it falls to active Internet users and free speech advocates to act as barometers of free expression and to send signals to the state when it abuses its privileges.

  • Guest

    Perhaps this law is an attempt to protect the Ukrainian web against pro-pukin trolls who are very numerous and perform what is called “injecting information”. For example, a troll writes: “I heard that rebels develop a successful attack…I’m not sure, though…” A typical method for spreading rumors, read any book about the Spanish Fifth Column.

  • davidhill

    For years I considered that western media’s ‘take’ on events around the world were the truth, but where as I have got older and have absorbed more with an open mind, I find that I cannot take at face value what I used to do. This has been tempered in recent times again with the USA/EU-Ukraine/Crimea-Russia conflict triangle where Russia has been portrayed, rightly or wrongly, as the villain in the scene.

    But where I have not to date seen within western media conclusive evidence that Russia and its military are actually fighting, engaged or have boots on the ground in the Ukraine. Surely if there was conclusive evidence western media would have published it and it would have been broadcast across all western media outlets to show to us mere mortals in the West, that Russia was truly the portrayed villain in the script. Added to this no conclusive evidence that the Malaysian airline was shot down by the Russian rebels or Russia itself.

    Due to this lack in evidence, one starts to think that because of this deficit in conclusive distributed media verification, all this might possibly be propaganda, directed by vested-interests behind the scenes, as Washington et al undertakes all the time. This ‘free’ thinking given strength and possible credence by the fact that all these monumental trade agreements being undertaken presently in secrecy (TTP & TTIP in particular) where the people are not privy, will place enormous unprecedented control and economic power into the hands of global corporations, supported by our political elite – http://worldinnovationfoundation.blogspot.co.uk/2014/08/the-ttip-transatlantic-trade-and.html

    Indeed, when it comes to our health as humans in the West, we are allowing more and more untested GMO foods to enter our markets but where Putin has banned them on the grounds that they are unproved and a health risk to the Russian people – http://sputniknews.com/russia/20141231/1016439571.html

    As we appear to be possibly marching towards a long and bitter war if we do not watch our Ps and Qs, unless nuclear weapons are dispatched by one or both sides, it is imperative for the salvage of lives in the West, that we know the truth before we enter a war with Russia. For previously in such conflicts as Iraq, we in the West were duped by the threat of non-existent weapons of weapons of mass destruction. This time around though will make that conflict look like a storm in a teacup and where the people in the West should clearly understand this before we commit to all out war with Russia.

    Indeed if the USA/EU create the same situation as Germany had after WW1 through economic sanctions, the same outcome will be the reality with Russia retaliating in a similar action. The reasoning is that if you bleed out the economic heart of a nation, they eventually have no alternative but to break out like Hitler did. Do we in the West really want this is the big question and the reasoning why western media has to be unbiased, open and transparent. For the reasoning to go to war or not, is based upon the people’s perceptions fed by the media predominantly and as history has shown clearly time and time again.

    • Objective

      RuSSian media picture the West as the major villain in the Ukrainian situation; do you think they are transparent and unbiased? You referred to some sites in your post, then here you have another post: en.censor.net.ua, an insider’s view.
      RuSSian economy is in an a**hole because of being based almost exclusively on natural ressources; could you name any manufacturing branch there (producing good quality staff, of course, not a bad copy-paste of obsolete Western cars)?

      • davidhill

        Censor.net, a Ukrainian so-called news blog that only puts in print pro-Ukrainian government news. Take a look yourself and you will see a one-sided news story programme/project. I wonder why this is? But this is not insider’s view of course but a supporters view of the neo-Nazi supported Ukrainian government. Just visit the web-link to see what Eastern Ukrainian mothers think about the pro-west Ukrainian army – http://yournewswire.com/ukrainian-woman-tells-the-truth-about-the-war-and-the-draft-must-watch-video/

        I agree that the Russian economy is overridingly based on oil and gas, but the EU is based upon major political corruption with all the major western corporations (Global 2000), similar to Russia I would say. There are no pure democratic nations in the world only Partyocracy and corporatocracy combined now in the West. The system is totally corrupt when you look into it in depth and with an open and unbiased mind – it takes years to learn this I can tell you.

        • Trolls

          “Ukrainian nazis” is a typically trollish phrase; turn on your brain, invent something original.

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