Azerbaijan temporarily suspends access to TikTok [updated October 31, 2023]


[Update] Access to TikTok was restored as of October 31, according to reports. The access was restored together with a call from the Cyber Security Service asking users to comply with the requirements of the legislation of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the rules and conditions set by social network administrators when sharing on social networks. 

On September 19, following reports that access to social media platform TikTok was unavailable, the Cyber Security Service under the  Ministry of Transport, Communication and Information Technologies confirmed to BBC Azerbaijan service, that TikTok was suspended as a result of an “anti-terrorist operation” in Karabakh. 

Previously authorities blocked access to the platform in September 2022. Then, the State Security Service said the measure was necessary in order to contain disinformation during the military offensive on the border between Azerbaijan and Armenia on September 14, 2022. 

Access to the Google Play store and Apple Appstore was also reportedly blocked.

Separately, at least two anti-war activists, Amrah Tahmazov and Javid Amhadov were called in for questioning by the State Security Service, over their social media posts reported OC Media.

Meanwhile, the State Agency for Media Development warned journalists and media platforms to refrain from sharing unverified information about the start of what the Azerbaijani Ministry of Defense referred to as “local anti-terrorist measures,” which Azerbaijan launched on September 19.

The measures were taken following a mine explosion that killed 14 Azerbaijani citizens.

The last time the country imposed country-wide internet throttling, was in 2020 during the 44-day war.

In a separate appeal, the General Prosecutor’s Office issued a statement describing the rules of reporting on anti-terrorism operations:

“According to the Law of the Republic of Azerbaijan “On Combating Terrorism”, information about terrorist acts is provided to the public in the form and volume determined by the head of the operational headquarters or the representative responsible for public relations of the operational headquarters.

The following information is prohibited from distribution:

  • the tactics and technical methods of conducting anti-terrorist operations; 
  • the information that endangers the life and health of people in the zone of anti-terrorist operations or outside the limits of this zone and hinders the conduct of anti-terrorist operations;
  • information that justifies terrorism or serves to promote it;
  • information about the persons participating in the anti-terrorist operations, as well as those who help in carrying out these operations.

Placing prohibited information on the Internet is considered an administrative offense (Article 388-1 of the Code of Administrative Offenses) and anyone sharing this information is subject to an administrative fine ranging from 500AZN to 2000AZN as well as an administrative arrest for up to 1 month.”

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