Government Blocks Access to Azadliq.info and Azadliq.org Websites in Azerbaijan

March 27th, 2017

Access to azadlig.info (Azadliq newspaper’s website) and azadliq.org (the website of Radio Liberty’s Azerbaijani Service) have been blocked in Azerbaijan as of around 5 pm on 27 March.

There is no problem in accessing the websites from abroad.

If previously meydan.tv (online channel Meydan TV’s website) was blocked in Azerbaijan, now the above-mentioned websites can also be visited by Azerbaijani users only through software programs changing the IP address (ProxySite.com, etc) because of these sites being blocked by government internet providers.

Recall that, on 10 March, amendments were introduced to the laws on “Information, Informatisation and Protection of Information” and on “Telecommunications” by Milli Meclis (Parliament). According to the amendment, in the case of detection of prohibited information on a website, the relevant executive authority (expected to be the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies) will immediately warn the website and its host provider. Upon receipt of the warning, the website owner is obliged to immediately remove that information from the website. Unless the prohibited information is deleted within 8 hours of warning, the relevant executive authority shall appeal to the court to restrict the website. If the information poses a danger for the state or society, the relevant authority will shut down the website without a court decision and then apply to the court. Access to the website restricted by the authority will be blocked until the completion of judicial review. The court will consider this appeal within 5 days.

According to the new law, the owner of an internet information resource and its domain name should avoid uploading the following prohibited information on that information resource:

* information on promotion and financing of terrorism, methods and tools of carrying out terrorist acts, and organising or conducting training with the purpose of terrorism, as well as open encouragement of terrorism;

* information on promotion of violence and religious extremism, and open encouragement of national, racial or religious hatred and enmity, violent change of the constitutional system of the state, disintegration of territorial integrity, violent seizure and retention of power, and organisation of mass disorder;

* information constituting a state secret;

* information on procedure and methods of preparing firearms, component parts, ammunition, or explosives;

* information on methods and procedure of preparation and use of narcotic drugs, psychotropic substances and their precursors, places where they can be illegally purchased, as well as places and methods of cultivation of plants containing narcotic drugs;

* information on pornography, including child pornography;

* information encouraging organisation of gambling and other illegal betting games and participation in such games;

* information promoting suicide as a solution to problems, condoning suicide, justifying or encouraging its committal, explaining methods of committing suicide, or information disseminated with the purpose of organising a group suicide of several people;

* information of an offensive and libellous nature, as well as information violating privacy;

* information infringing intellectual property rights;

* Other information prohibited from dissemination by laws of Azerbaijan.

Note that, the managements of the editorial offices have not been informed about the blockage of access to the websites. This step serves the strengthening of the government control of the online media.