For all its commitment to change and openness, Uzbekistan still will not allow internet users to access Twitter.
Rasul Kusherbayev, an often-outspoken member of parliament, has demanded that change.
On May 19, Kusherbayev, who belongs to the Liberal-Democratic Party, used his month-old Twitter account, which he presumably created while using ban-circumventing VPN software, to ask: “When can Twitter be unblocked?” He said he has also sent a formal request to the telecommunications regulator to provide an explanation for the censorship policy.
“I think such restrictions have more negative outcomes than positive ones,” he tweeted.
Kusherbayev’s point was to say that forcing internet users to familiarize themselves with VPNs was leaving them open to the option of accessing far more dangerous and illegal online resources than Twitter, making the ban a counterproductive exercise.
Twitter is only one of several websites banned in Uzbekistan. Others include TikTok, VKontakte and WeChat. The authorities had one time also made Skype inaccessible, arguing that developers of the program were in violation of personal data legislation by declining to host servers processing the private data of Uzbek citizens within the country. Despite those complaints, none of the foreign software companies have complied with Uzbek government requests.
Some social media websites and applications, such as Telegram, Facebook and Odnoklassniki, are accessible, though.
By law, the deputy should receive a response his query within 10 days.
Kusherbayev has gained considerable exposure and popularity by dabbling with hot-button issues. His Telegram account has 57,000 subscribers, which is a healthy number for an Uzbek politician.
He has many detractors too, however. Last July, Alisher Kadyrov, who heads the Milliy Tiklanish, or National Revival, party derided Kusherbayev as a populist.
“He talks a lot about problems, which people like, but that is not a solution to problems,” Kadyrov complained.