Ukraine has blocked Russia's largest social media and Internet services as a sanction against Russia's annexation of Crimea and the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine. The targeted sites include social networks VK.com and Odnoklassniki, as well as search engine Yandex and e-mail service Mail.ru. According to Ukraine's president Petro Poroshenko, 'The challenges of hybrid war demand adequate responses. Massive Russian cyber attacks across the world...show it is time to act differently and more decisively.' The measure risks a backlash among the Ukrainian public, as these websites are widely popular in the country.
Several international instruments guarantee the right to freedom of expression. The Universal Declaration of Human Rights affirms that this right includes the freedom to hold opinion without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas. The Internet, with the opportunity it offers people to express themselves, is seen as an enabler of the exercise of this particular human right. Although these freedoms are guaranteed in global instruments and in national constitutions, in some countries freedom of expression is often curtailed through online censorship or filtering mechanisms, imposed by states, often for political reasons.
Internet access is growing rapidly, yet large groups of people remain unconnected to the Internet. As of 2015, about 43% of people had access to the Internet (in developing countries only 34%). Access to ICTs is part of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which commits to ‘significantly increase access to ICTs and strive to provide universal and affordable access to the Internet in least developed countries by 2020’ (Goal 9.c).
One of the main sociocultural issues is content policy, often addressed from the standpoints of human rights (freedom of expression and the right to communicate), government (content control), and technology (tools for content control). Discussions usually focus on three groups of content: