Togo elections internet access

Azerbaijani government and telcos must #KeepItOn during presidential elections

One year earlier than planned, access to information and free expression will be essential throughout Azerbaijan’s snap presidential elections on February 7, 2024. Through an open letter, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition are calling on the government of Azerbaijan to ensure unrestricted access to the internet and digital communication platforms throughout the upcoming election. 

Internet shutdowns crush democracy. They undermine people’s participation and trust in transparency of the election process and fuel discontent with election results, exacerbating existing crises. Felicia Anthonio, #KeepItOn Campaign Manager at Access Now

Azerbaijani authorities have a long track record of resorting to internet shutdowns throughout military escalations and periods of social unrest. This pattern includes throttling major social media networks for 46 days in 2020, blocking TikTok in 2022, and completely disconnecting cities from the rest of the world during ongoing military operations in 2023. Authorities in Azerbaijan impose internet blackouts as a tool to maintain their own narratives, control information flow, and silence dissenting voices.

Azerbaijan has historically made the disturbing decision of shutting down the internet when people need it the most. Access Now calls on the government of Azerbaijan to uphold human rights standards and guarantee open, free, and secure internet access throughout the upcoming elections. Anastasiya Zhyrmont, Policy Manager Eastern Europe & Central Asia at Access Now

Through an open letter, Access Now and the #KeepItOn coalition are issuing a series of recommendations, including:

The government of Azerbaijan:

  • Stop shutting down, throttling, or blocking the internet, and make a firm commitment to refrain from imposing any unlawful restrictions on internet access and telecommunications in the future, particularly amid the ongoing conflicts in the region;
  • Repeal and amend any laws and policies that legitimize internet shutdowns, and enact rights-respecting in compliance with Azerbaijan’s obligations under international human rights law.

Telecommunication providers:

  • Preserve evidence and reveal any demands from the government of Azerbaijan urging you to disrupt internet access, and any pressure to conceal those demands;
  • Publicly disclose details such as when the internet and related services have been disrupted, their status throughout the shutdowns, and when they come back online;
  • Consult civil society and rally peer companies to jointly push back against government censorship demands, and issue regular transparency reports to ensure open and secure internet access and deter future shutdown orders.