Ukrainians View Increased Internet Control as Freedom Restriction

Written by Camilla Jessen

Mar.05 - 2024 12:21 PM CET

A recent survey shows that many Ukrainians now see government control of online information as a threat to their freedoms.

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According to a survey by the Kyiv International Institute of Sociology (KMIS) conducted from February 17-23, there's a significant shift in how Ukrainians view state control over internet content.

Back in July 2022, 60% of Ukrainians supported the idea of the state actively monitoring online information to enhance protection against external threats, with only 30% viewing it as a limitation of their freedoms. By February 2024, the tables have turned, with 49% now seeing such government actions as restrictions on their rights and freedoms.

Changing Attitudes Towards Security and Freedom

The survey also noted a decrease in those who favor stronger control of online information for security reasons, dropping to 44%. Among users of Telegram channels for news about conflicts, 43% support more active state intervention online.

Conversely, 46% of non-users believe this would infringe on citizen freedoms.

The researchers suggest that the difference in attitudes towards control, rather than outright bans, could be because people assume they won't be affected if they access "approved" channels or websites.

Anton Grushetskyi, executive director of KMIS, interprets the decline in support for increased internet surveillance as a broader decrease in public trust towards the government. This skepticism has led many to view such measures as censorship and a means to suppress criticism.

This is a notable shift from May 2022, when 68% opposed government criticism, to the end of 2023, when 70% supported the critique of government decisions or actions.

Survey Methodology and Accuracy

The KMIS study interviewed 1,052 respondents aged 18 and older from across Ukraine, excluding Crimea and areas not under government control, as well as citizens who left the country after February 24, 2022. The telephone interviews were conducted using a random mobile number sample.

Despite the war conditions introducing potential deviations, the results are considered highly representative of Ukrainian public opinion, providing a reliable insight into current attitudes towards internet control and freedom of speech.

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