Freedom House has released its annual report on Freedom on the Net (Freedom on The Net 2019). The human rights organization has studied Internet freedom in 65 countries of 6 regions. Armenia received 76 points and is in the 8th place in the list of monitored countries and is considered free for the second time in a row. In the 2018 report, Armenia was also among the free countries.
The studies of “Media Advocate” Initiative do not coincide with Freedom House’s observations. It should be noted that the Internet press has received 91 lawsuits in 2018-2019 which is an unprecedented number.
In 2018-2019, criminal cases were filed against social network accounts that were classified as “fake” and even an arrest occurred.
During this period, the law enforcement bodies entered the editorial houses of Yerevan.today and Aysor.am news outlets which exclusively work on the Internet platform. In the first case, even the media equipment was confiscated.
Cases of pressure on journalists has recently increased, and because of some publications even journalists have been invited to the Special Investigation Service (SIS) to disclose their article sources. For example, the editors-in-chief of Hayeli.am and Armlur.am news agencies.
Editor-in-chief of ankakh.com news outlet, Varduhi Ishkhanyan has been invited to the General Department on Combating Organized Crime for her Facebook post. Varduhi Ishkhanyan refused to do it, and after about 15 minutes, some people tried to enter her apartment in order her to sign some papers.
Online media outlets are regularly divided into blacks and whites, outsiders and insiders. In particular, Hayeli.am was attacked. A group of young men threw eggs and attached offensive posters on the walls of a press club and announced that if the door were open, they would do the same inside.
In the second half of 2018, at the state level, an attempt was made to obtain personal information from Facebook in relation to its 81 users. According to media and information security expert Samvel Martirosyan, “It is a record number of exact users.”
Considering these data, “Media Advocate” Initiative concludes that the Freedom House international human rights organization has obtained non-objective data from organizations operating in Armenia and monitoring the Armenian online platform, which was the basis for a report on having a free Internet.