Threat Watch

Ukraine Opting for Censorship to Combat Russian Influence Campaigns

Ukraine: Over the past several years, a number of nations have come forward with evidence supporting the assertion that Russia has worked to influence and undermine the democratic process.  The Ukraine has already shown evidence of a number of instances in which Russia has used cyber-operations to influence public opinion.  The Security Service of Ukraine (SBU) has announced that it will begin blocking websites which are suspected of “undermining the country’s national security” prior to the upcoming presidential election.  The head of the SBU did not mince words when discussing the reason for the censorship and blatantly blamed Russia for utilizing “information influence, fake news, and attacks on the information space,” as well as carrying out “cyber-attacks, attacks on cyber-space and critical infrastructure.”  It was noted during the statement that 2,000 fake accounts had been identified and blocked along with 200 websites promoting Russian ideology over the past year.

ANALYST NOTES

While a number of nations have complained about Russian influence operations online and have worked closely with social media companies to put a stop to fake accounts, this is the first time that measures have been actively taken to block websites as well. While many around the world may support the actions being taken by Ukraine to block Russian websites, it is not likely that many other western nations will follow suit as many would view blocking websites as a slippery slope towards suppressing freedom of speech.