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On February 9, 2018, a discussion "Digital user rights. Protect * can not * punish?" that was conducted by NGO" Internews-Ukraine "and "Podolian Agency for Regional Development" took place in Vinnytsia.

The experts discussed the protection of digital rights of users - the basic human rights in the online space. Do all citizens of Ukraine have equal access to the Internet? Is freedom of speech guaranteed in the Internet and is it absolute? For which publications in the Internet can law enforcement persecute users?

The experts noted that there are ongoing human rights debates on the Internet in Ukraine, in particular regarding what we can do online, and what should not be done.

"We usually understand our rights, but do not understand our responsibilities. For example, we do not think that for publishing in the Internet, for example, with communist symbols, there may be criminal liability, - said Vitaliy Moroz, head of new media programs of NGO" Internews-Ukraine ".

At the same time, it was emphasized on the multiplicity of the term "digital rights".

"In a broad sense, digital rights are human rights transposed into an online space. The Council of Europe Recommendations from 2014 define the categories of digital rights: the right of freedom of a word, freedom of expression, the right to access information (access to resources, access to websites without barriers), the right of peaceful gatherings online (users have the opportunity to put together requirements, to interact with authorities, etc.), the right of digital protection (including cyberattacks), to protect personal information in the Internet and the right to privacy, "- added Vitaliy Moroz.


Internet access is at the core of digital human rights. Experts emphasized that Internet in Ukraine is unevenly present in urban and rural areas.

"Can we talk about the violation of digital rights in this case? I think so. Have the state to grant me this access? If I live in the village, why should I have fewer rights than a resident of Kiev? "- said Anton Liagusha, a professor of Vasyl Stus Donetsk National University.

Representative of EGAP program in Vinnytsia region Victor Matsenko added that in wo years in Ukraine it is possible to reach the Internet coverage of 80%.

"Last week, during the" Digital Talk with the Prime Minister of Ukraine ", it was agreed at the level of the state that within two years the penetration of the Internet throughout Ukraine should be 80%. If the state contributes to Internet providers, coverage of access to the network throughout the country can be achieved over the course of these two years, " said Matsenko.

Experts have noted that Ukraine has the cheapest Internet in the world.

"The issue of equal access to the Internet is not only the issue of network availability, but also the unequal financial capacity of citizens to get the service," said sociologist Anatolii Slobodianiuk.

"Users feel that this is good, but it directly affects the quality of service delivery," - added Matsenko.

In addition, experts discussed the issue of "digital tracks" and privacy in the Internet.

"If you give someone your information - sooner or later they steal it. What to do with "digital tracks"? You need to be prepared to ensure that information provided by you can appear online, "said Viktor Matsenko.

The issue of "digital tracks" also applies to children. Defenders talked about the concept of a "gadget from a cart" that parents encounter in their attempt to regulate children's access to content in the Internet and exercise parental control.

Experts have come to the conclusion that today the understanding of the Internet is changing.

"I think that we are moving now from the" romantic period "of understanding the Internet as equal opportunities and access to understanding the need of regulation and self-regulation. We see how Facebook tries to regulate fake news as Germany and France are trying to enforce legislation to protect personal data. That is, the Internet is moving in the direction of regulation. However, regulation for civil society is always a danger. Therefore, our discussions are necessary in order to propose mechanisms of self-regulation, taking into account the best world practices ", - said Vitalii Moroz.

Video record of the discussion can be viewed here.

The discussion was conducted within the framework of the project "Protection of Internet Freedom in Ukraine", which is being implemented by NGO" Internews-Ukraine " with the support of Counterpart-International.

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