On 1 October, an Azerbaijani parliamentarian called for tighter control over the Internet, particularly social media sites.
Zahid Oruc, who has been in office since 2001 and ran as a self-nominated, independent candidate in the 2013 and 2018 presidential elections, demanded counteraction against anti-Azerbaijan activities on social media. Due to their increasing popularity, overtaking traditional media including television, social media sites like YouTube are a particular threat, he argued.
He suggested that all Azerbaijani government agencies should set up accounts on social media to disseminate their own propaganda, and that the current anti-terrorism legislation should be reviewed to include ‘those abroad who spew poison against Azerbaijan’.
In his words, the weapon of the 21st century is no longer the atomic bomb, but information.
The idea of tightening control over social media sites and the Internet in general is regularly brought forward by MPs, and
websites that authorities deem ‘undesirable’ are blocked
In December 2017, the parliament made new amendments to the Code of Administrative Offenses to fine individuals and legal entities for circulating banned information with 500 – 2,000 manats.
released by the international human rights organisation Freedom House about the state of internet freedom around the world suggests that the accounts of Azerbaijani social media users are likely to be monitored, including via hacking and digital attacks. Experts have traced IP addresses involved in DDos attacks on journalists and activists back to government institutions.
Azerbaijani authorities have long been criticized for censorship and restricting internet freedom. Officials deny all accusations and argue that internet freedom is provided.