SpaceX chief Elon Musk said Saturday the company’s Starlink satellite broadband service will not block Russian media outlets “unless at gunpoint.”
“Starlink has been told by some governments (not Ukraine) to block Russian news sources. We will not do so unless at gunpoint,” the tech titan tweeted.
“Sorry to be a free speech absolutist.”
Russian-controlled media outlets have come under fire as the West and its allies seek to crack down on misinformation about Moscow’s onslaught on Ukraine.
This week the European Union banned Russian state-funded RT and Sputnik from the 27-nation bloc, while US-based social media giants including Twitter and Facebook parent Meta have taken steps to block the spread of Russian state-linked news media.
Starlink was activated in Ukraine last week after Kyiv digital minister Mykhailo Fedorov urged Musk to provide the embattled country with stations days after it was invaded by neighboring Russia.
The service operates a constellation of more than 2,000 satellites that aim to provide internet access across the planet.
Web monitoring group NetBlocks has reported a series of significant disruptions to internet service in Ukraine since the Russian invasion began.
“Some Starlink terminals near conflict areas were being jammed for several hours at a time,” Musk said in a separate tweet Saturday.
“SpaceX reprioritized to cyber defense & overcoming signal jamming. Will cause slight delays in Starship & Starlink V2.”
Since its military invaded on February 24, Russia has pummeled Ukrainian cities, with officials reporting hundreds of civilians killed.
Russian authorities have imposed a news blackout, with multiple media websites partially inaccessible, Twitter restricted and Facebook blocked.