On September 12, 2022 IDFI requested public information from the Georgian National Communications Commission (“Communications Commission” or “Commission”) about the addresses to block internet pages sent to internet-providers from 2017 up to date. The analysis covers the period from 2017 to September 26, 2022.
In this period the Commission sent 65 addresses to providers. Overall, 480 websites were requested to be blocked.
Excluding the websites that could not be checked for one reason or another, the actual rate of website blocking under the Commission’s authority is 55%. Such a rate and the number of cases of avoidance could put the enforcement of this authority of the Commission under question.
On the systematic level it does not appear that the Commission abuses procedural/material shortcomings of the website blocking mechanism. However, there are number of shortcomings, mostly procedural, which show that the current mechanism of website blocking has significant potential of misuse against the freedom of expression.
- Technical enforcers of website blocking in Georgia are internet service provider companies. The Georgian National Communications Commission addresses providers based on the appeals of customers and other subjects (including state organs).
- The Commission is never an original initiator of website blocking. It only has a kind of intermediary role between appealing subjects and the providers.
- In the period from 2017 to September 26, 2022, the commission sent 65 addresses to providers. Overall, 480 websites were requested to be blocked.
- The Commission has not requested to block any website in 2017. The highest number of blocked websites comes for 2022 (only for the first 9 months of 2022).
- The majority of blocked websites are - copyright violating content (77%), then - other production violating Georgian legislation (16.5%), then - pornography (6.5%).
- Most often the Commission was addressed by state organs (38%), then - legal entities (31%), then - individuals (20%).
- The actual rate of blocking of requested websites is about 55%.
- Various ways to avoid blocking have been identified. Such as: mobile apps. Also, owners of blocked websites use different platforms (e.g. Telegram) to provide customers with information about new registered domains (of the same website).
- Owners of blocked websites, in one way or another, are still able to disseminate inadmissible production. Especially popular websites are able to do this easily.
- The low rate of blocking and the number of cases to avoid it in one way or another could put the effectiveness of the web-blocking mechanism in Georgia under question.
- The normative regulation of website blocking contains many shortcomings which, in turn, has a potential to be misused against fundamental human rights, including the freedom of expression. Within the research, there has not been revealed the systemic practice of abuse of this authority by the Commission.
- Neither the Communications Commision, nor internet service providers, nor other state bodies publish information about the use of website blocking mechanism.
This material has been financed by the Swedish International Development Cooperation Agency, Sida. Responsibility for the content rests entirely with the creator. Sida does not necessarily share the expressed views and interpretations.
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