As of October 23, Azerbaijan blocked access to a number of pro-Iran websites. The decision follows a rift in diplomatic ties between Azerbaijan and Iran over the course of the past two months.
According to IranIntl website, Azerbaijan blocked access to these websites to prevent Iranian and religious propaganda.
The blocking was first reported by journalist Elchin Alioglu via Facebook page. Alioglu also said that access to the religious video series spreading Iranian propaganda on YouTube was also blocked.
Azerbaijan ranked “not free” in this year’s Freedom House, Freedom on the Net report. Among key factors are the overall infrastructural challenges, a monopoly over ISPs, and distributed Internet traffic, state control over the information and communication technology, blocked access to most websites that host unfavorable news coverage, and new forms of restrictions introduced during COVID-19.
According to the report, there is an overall decline in internet freedoms across the world:
Global internet freedom has declined for the 10th consecutive year: 26 countries’ scores worsened during this year’s coverage period, while 22 countries registered net gains. The largest declines occurred in Myanmar and Kyrgyzstan, followed by India, Ecuador, and Nigeria. A record number of countries featured deliberate disruptions to internet service.
On the bright side, countries like Sudan and Ukraine experienced the largest improvements, followed by Zimbabwe find the report. And while Iceland was the top performer China was found to have the worst conditions for internet freedom.
The report highlighted some new trends that have emerged globally:
[…] this year Freedom on the Net observed intentional disruptions to connectivity in a record 22 out of 65 countries. Many of these disruptions, including Iran’s November 2019 countrywide blackout and shutdowns in Moscow in August and September 2019, were directly precipitated by protests. Such practices are an ultimate expression of contempt for freedoms of association and assembly, as well as for the right to access information.
Azerbaijan was ranked partly free last year.