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On November 11, discussions were held on the topic of “Media and Verbal Culture” related to the freedom of speech on the internet media and social networks during the “Media and Time” programme on Ichtimai (Public) Television. The guests of the programme included MPs Hadi Rajabli and Malahat Ibrahimgizi, head of APA Holding Vusala Mahirgizi, and head of Azerbaijan Internet Forum Osman Gunduz.
The key topic of discussion was the regulation of the internet.
Speaking on the TV programme, MP Hadi Rajabli said all opportunities and conditions are provided for free speech in Azerbaijan. “However, this freedom should be in conformity with the law. We should strengthen some provisions of the laws about it. There are separate laws on the internet in neighbouring Russia and Turkey which allow the government to shut down even websites without a court decision,” the MP noted.
Malahat Ibrahimgizi, MP from the ruling New Azerbaijan Party, said the internet needs to be regulated. “Some people use the freedom of speech on the internet in their own or others’ interests. Offensive and immoral opinions are voiced. People are insulted. There are groupings and polarisations in social networks,” the MP said.
Osman Gunduz, head of Azerbaijan Internet Forum, said strict work should be carried out to enable people insulted on the internet to seek remedy in court in accordance with defamation articles and judicial practice should be formed in this connection.
Recall that the need to regulate the internet had previously been voiced by other MPs as well. The government seems trying to take the internet under its control and MPs have already begun working towards this goal, because ruling party MP Malahat Ibrahimgizi has already brought up the issue of internet regulation in Milli Majlis (Parliament).
Commenting on the issue of internet regulation, video blogger Mehman Huseynov said MPs were showing up on TV programmes and saying that social networks are detrimental to them. “Yes, they are right, because for years they have been hiding the money stolen from the people, the properties they have bought and their business networks. They have silenced all TV channels, many newspapers and websites with money. But they forget that we are here. We film, investigate and show their real faces to the people! Therefore, social networks are not useful for them,” Huseynov said.
Mehman Huseynov has disseminated a video titled MP Hadi Rajabli’s Business on Sancaq Production Facebook page.
Media expert, lawyer Alasgar Mammadli said such an initiative by MPs is perhaps for gauging public reaction to this issue. “Under the present circumstances, this behaviour cannot be assessed as the government’s initiative, because the government’s initiatives are implemented straightaway, without any serious discussions. At present, the internet is almost under government control. Technical regulation is directly in their control. As for the regulation of the content, this process is fully controlled by the legislation,” Alasgar Mammadli said.