Overview: The Internet freedoms in Ukraine 2013

To consider the Internet freedoms in Ukraine, one should consider the latest developments in media industry in Ukraine, in particular, the segment of the Internet and social media. Such analysis must foresee a broader perspective, including the development of the Ukrainian Internet as an industry as well as the role of government that directly and indirectly regulates the Internet.

49,8% of adult population in Ukraine had access to the Internet as of Sept 2013, reports Kyiv Institute of Sociology (KIIS). The Internet access expanded from big cities to regional centers and small towns. The market for online advertising has grown 20-30% annually and the forecast for 2013 was $250 million. Online purchases became an everyday habit for hundred thousands of Ukrainians. The segment of tablets in the market was rapidly growing – 784 000 tablets were imported to Ukraine during the first three quarters of 2013. The growth of tablets sales in the 3rd quarter of 2013 was 233% compared to the same period of 2012.

The market of Internet providers in Ukraine was diverse and competitive since late 90s, the time when it has been constantly developing. An average monthly payment for broadband Internet access is around  $12-15, one of the cheapest in the world. The cost of the Internet in Ukraine made the service accessible to new customers and helps the market to grow. A Ukrainian cyrillic domain zone .УКР for websites was registered in 2013, expanding the variety of domain names for local business and media.

The government interference targeting Internet companies was among the most disturbing factors of the industry development. In 2013 the government took actions to control the online payments and the distribution of content online by using the effective but legislatively doubtful method – to invade the offices of the companies and eject network servers. In 2013 the law enforcement agencies targeted the following offices: IT-company GlobalLogics, Russian social network VK.com, online payments company WebMoney, Internet-provider Volya, file exchange service company FS.com. On Dec 9, 2013, the government used the same method against their political opponents – police invaded into the headquarter of oppositional Batkivchyna political party and ejected the servers. Continue reading