Turkey's Radio and Television Supreme Council, or RTÜK, recently confirmed that they had requested Netflix remove a gay character from the Turkish teen drama Ask 101 (Love 101) -- and that Netflix had complied.
Main character Osman, played by
Selahattin Pasali, had been originally conceived of as gay, but it appears that any scenes which actually say so have now been cut.
An anonymous RTÜK official said the problem about that character has been removed.
On July 18, reports from Turkish media indicated that Netflix was canceling the
popular drama Ask 101 (Love 101). RTUK, the country's broadcasting regulator, demanded that the streaming platform should censor the character in the series.
The director of the series, Ece Yörenç, told Fasikül, a Turkish entertainment website, that
it was "very scary" that the production of series can be halted because of a gay character. The director argued that RTUK was unreasonable because no gay intimacy even takes place in the show.
Netflix is yet to release an official statement
regarding Love 101 or whether they will continue their service in Turkey despite the increasingly strict censorship laws.
The German Foreign Office has warned travellers to Turkey that they could face legal repercussions if they are caught using a VPN in the country.
It is the first time that a formal warning has been made about using VPNs in the country, but it comes
from the highest level and is one that travellers from all countries should be aware of.
Under the dictatorial leadership of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey's slide towards authoritarianism has been remarkably swift. In the government's
drive to control the internet and restrict its political opponents, Turkey has sought to block VPNs , banned the use of encrypted messaging services , and routinely blocked social media sites and instigated total internet shutdowns at politically
sensitive times. Hundreds of thousands of websites are now inaccessible in Turkey, which has ironically driven more and more Turkish citizens and ex-pats onto VPNs in order to enjoy free access to the internet.
A by-law which will allow for Turkey's state-run TV censor to extend its remit to all internet broadcasting platforms has been approved.
The Turkish state agency for monitoring, regulating, and sanctioning radio and television broadcasts (RTÜK) met on
Tuesday to discuss the bylaw regarding radio and TV programs aired online. The bylaw, which will also require that TV stations obtain a licence from RTÜK to begin broadcasting online.
Under the leadership of the ruling Justice and Development
Party (AKP), RTÜK took a strict approach with TV stations, slapping channels with large fines for what they say is ''offending societal values.'' Consequently, many Turkish television producers have opted to share their work online, but now face the same
repressive censorship rules that they previously managed to avoid.
Turkey's parliament on Thursday passed legislation widening government control of the internet, one of the last remaining platforms for critical and independent reporting.
The TV, and now internet censor RTUK is controlled by representatives of the
ruling AKP party.
Under the new legislation, internet broadcasters will have to apply for a license from the censor. And of course risk being turned down because the government doesn't like them. Websites that do not obtain the required licence
will be blocked.
Turkish authorities have already banned more than 170,000 websites, but observers point out that Turks have become increasingly savvy on the internet, using various means to circumvent restrictions, such as by using virtual
private networks (VPN).
But authorities are quickly becoming adept, too. Fifteen VPN providers are currently blocked by Turkey, cyber rights expert Akdeniz said. It's becoming really, really difficult for standard internet users to access banned
content. It's not a simple but a complex government machinery now seeking to control the internet.
The Committee to Protect Journalists rather optimistically calls on Turkish authorities to scrap the article of a draft bill that would expand internet censorship in Turkey.
The Parliamentary Planning and Budget Commission has now passed article 73 of
the bill, which would require online broadcasters, including YouTube and Netflix Turkey, to be licensed and regulated by the federal TV and radio censor RTÜK, according to news reports. Article 73 would also extend RTÜK's authority to personal social
Parliament still needs to approve the bill's remaining articles before it schedules a vote on the bill but it has more than enough votes to pass and become law,
Government Minister Ahmet Arslan, who oversees internet
censorship, has claimed that:
Censorship does not exist in Turkey ...[BUT]... Only broadcast material that goes "against national security [and the] moral order of the country" would be blocked
if the bill becomes law.
Turkey's President Erdogan has stepped up his repression of dissent by blocking the Tor network in the country.
Watchdog group Turkey Blocks has confirmed that Turkey is blocking the Tor anonymity network's direct access mode for most
users. You can still use a bridge mode for now, but there are hints that internet providers might be hurting performance even then. Bridges are unlisted relays and may require a bit of searching out.
The restrictions come alongside a recent
government ban on virtual private network services.
Social media users who share content that has been subject to a legal complaint in Turkey will be punished, according an omnibus bill currently being debated in parliament.
Internet censors at the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) will be able to
decide for the removal or blocking of Internet content based on vague claims about "protection of national security and public order" in the omnibus bill, and users who then share such content will also be punished.
On March 20,
parliament approved a key article of the contentious omnibus bill that gives power to the prime minister and other ministers to shut down websites within four hours. The approval came just six months after a similar bill was overturned by the
The TİB could enforce the ministry's request as a blanket ban of the website if deemed necessary, within a maximum four hours. The TİB would then submit the decision to the judge of a criminal court of peace within 24 hours
for approval. The judge would have to issue a ruling within 48 hours. If no verdict is issued, the ban would automatically be revoked.
According to the law, the TİB could also file criminal complaints by applying to prosecutors regarding the
content of the website. ISPs or web hosts would be required to submit the necessary information to help locate those being censored through a court order. Providers that do not identify censored account holders could be given hefty fines Authorities
would also be able to revoke their provider licenses in Turkey.
The Turkish cartoonist Mehmet Duzenli began serving a three-month prison sentence on a charge of insulting Adnan Oktar, an extremist Muslim preacher who is well known for his creationist, anti-Zionist and holocaust-denial views.
Duzenli refused to
appeal on the grounds that a decision to suspend the sentence would still prevent him from expressing himself freely in his cartoons. He Explained:
If Mr. Oktar has the right to claim that he is the Mahdi [the redeemer
who is supposed to appear at the 'end times'], I have the right to say that he is lying.
Johann Bihr, the head of the Reporters Without Borders Eastern Europe and Central Asia desk said:
D?zenli over a cartoon is totally unacceptable. Such a disproportionate sentence is a reminder that Turkey's penal code often violates the country's own constitution as well as international conventions on freedom of information. The Turkish authorities
must urgently carry out the necessary reforms , including decriminalizing defamation and insult.
A Turkish court has given Sedat Kapanoglu, the founder of one of Turkey's most popular online forums, Eksi Sözlük (Sour Dictionary), a 10 month suspended sentence for blasphemy.
A police complaint was filed regarding writers of a discussion
thread opened on the website in 2011, alleging insults to the religious character Muhammad. Some 40 of the website's members were detained by the police and charged with insulting religion on the thread.
The court ruled that Kapanoglu had
committed the crime of "insulting the religious values shared by a group of society" and sentenced him to the 10 months in jail. The court suspended the sentence based on the time passed since the crime was committed.
The court also
sentenced suspect Özgür Kuru to seven months and 15 days in jail on the same charges, while also suspending the execution of this sentence. The court acquitted a third suspect and also decided to suspend the cases against other 37 suspects.
However, suspects would be retried if they commit the same crime within three years.
Turkey's telecoms authority lifted a two-week-old ban on Twitter, after the constitutional court ruled the previous day that the block breached freedom of expression.
Turkey's Official Gazette published the court's ruling on Thursday morning, further
piling pressure on the telecoms authority, TIB, to lift the ban. TIB removed court orders blocking the site from its webpage on Thursday afternoon, after which Erdogan's office confirmed the ban was no more.
YouTube however remains offline in
Turkey. The TIB blocked it one week after blocking Twitter. Legal challenges are pending.
Turkey's telecoms regulator removed an official order blocking access to YouTube from its website on Tuesday after the country's top court ruled last week that the ban was a breach of human rights.
The video-sharing website will be
accessible in Turkey later on Tuesday, an official at the office of the prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, told Reuters: As the constitutional court verdict was received today, YouTube will be open to access later today.
Turkey has blocked Twitter after its prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, threatened to "root out" the social media network where wiretapped recordings have been leaked. These records were reported to reveal government corruption, hardly what
the government needs ahead of local elections.
Twitter as blocked by Turkey's telecommunications censor (TIB) with a statement citing court orders relating to the recordings. But the Internet Technologies Board, BTK claimed nonsense about it being to avoid the possible future victimisation of citizens.
Erdogan had made repeated threats to shut down social media sites after audio recordings of his alleged conversations suggesting corruption were leaked. Two weeks ago he suggested that a total ban on sites like Facebook and YouTube were in his
thoughts. The point was dismissed days later by the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, but Erdogan then repeated his claims. We will wipe out all of these, Erdogan told thousands of supporters at a political rally.
Offsite Article: Turkey's Twitter Ban Collapse Fueled By VPNs and DNS Tricks
Friday's news that the Turkish government had banned its citizens from accessing Twitter was depressing but an opportunity to be embraced. Forewarned is forearmed, and the fact that Turks are learning how to beat censorship with VPNs and DNS tricks
better prepares them for the future.
Turkey has stepped up its efforts to block access to Twitter after many users found ways to flout its ban. Internet service providers in the country are now blocking the addresses used by the site, making it significantly more difficult to get
around the restrictions, analysts have said.
Initially, Turkish internet service providers (ISPs) were simply redirecting traffic to a government webpage by forcing the DNS servers, which send to the correct IP addresses for the site they are
trying to access, to redirect away from Twitter's homepage.
Now, however, ISPs have begun blocking the IP addresses used by Twitter themselves, according to an analysis carried out by internet monitoring firm Renesys. And a Turkish government
webpage confirmed the block, citing court orders.
The Turkish government reinforced its heavily criticised censorship of social media by blocking YouTube a week after it restricted access to the micro-blogging platform Twitter. The latest curbs came hours after an audio recording of a high-level
security meeting was leaked on the video-sharing website.
Several similarly incriminating recordings, allegedly showing massive government corruption and prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's direct influence on the media, have
been leaked on social media in recent weeks. Erdogan has dismissed the allegations as lies and blackmail, accusing the opposition of trying to undermine the success of his Justice and Development party (AKP) ahead of critical local elections on Sunday.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an continues to double down on Internet censorship. A week after Turkish ISPs blocked Twitter Turkey's telecommunications authority has blocked YouTube . The block began to be rolled out hours after a leaked
recording published anonymously on YouTube purported to show a conversation in which Turkey's foreign minister, spy chief, and a top general appear to discuss scenarios that could lead to a Turkish attack against militants in Syria.
The fallout from the Erdogan government's censorship spree has not been limited to platforms that host embarrassing political content. When Turkish Internet users handily circumvented the original Twitter block by using Google's DNS
servers, Google's DNS was itself blocked. Now it appears that just as Turkey's ISPs are rolling out a block on YouTube, they are also blocking access to the Tor Project's website , where users can download the Tor Browser Bundle. The Tor browser is a
powerful tool in the censorship circumvention toolbox because it is exceptionally difficult to filter Tor traffic . Mirror Mirror
For users in Turkey who have already downloaded the Tor Browser Bundle, censorship circumvention
should continue without a hitch. And for the users who have not yet done so, it's not too late. The Tor project's website has many mirrors:
The Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTU K) has suspended the national broadcast license of Kanaltu rk TV, citing an administrative decision from years ago, a legal controversy that adds to concerns that state agencies are stepping up a
clampdown on any voice critical of the government.
The decision came as the government dragged its feet on lifting the Twitter ban, which was deemed illegal and unconstitutional by both an Ankara court and the Constitutional Court. The
government's tightening grip on any form of media is of serious concern ahead of local elections.
RTUK cited a 2010 decision of an administrative court which states the TV station cannot broadcast nationally but is allowed to broadcast regionally.
Update: ...But Erdogan still gets the country's support in elections
Erdogan's increasingly Islamist and imperialist AKP won a solid majority in voting across Turkey on Sunday, in what is seen as a referendum on his rule
In Sunday's vote across Turkey, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdog(an's increasingly Islamist
and imperialistic Justice and Development AK party appeared to receive an overwhelming majority of the votes cast.
The Turkish government has pushed draconian internet censorship legislation through parliament. The new law was met with outrage in Turkey, with opposition parties accusing the government of wanting to introduce ever tighter control by bypassing the
The regulations were adopted after a heated parliamentary debate during which one MP of the main opposition People's Republican party (CHP) compared the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, to Hitler. Hasan Oren said:
When you came into power you talked of increasing democracy in Turkey, but now you are trying to implement fascism. Remember that Adolf Hitler used the same methods when he rose to power.
The law now needs to be
signed by the Turkish president, Abdullah Gul, to come into effect.
The new measures will allow Turkey's telecommunications authority (TIB) to block any website within 24 hours without first seeking a court ruling. The law also obliges internet
providers to store all data on web users' activities for two years and make it available to the authorities upon request.
Update: Signed into law
19th February 2013. From israelnationalnews.com
Turkey's president, Abdullah Gul has signed into force a repressive law voted in by the government that would introduce further censorship of web use.
Gul said on his Twitter feed he promulgated the law - which the opposition and rights groups say
infringes on citizens' freedoms - after the government assured him it would soften parts of it through later amendments. He claimed:
I am aware of the problems mainly on two points.... These concerns will be taken into
account in the new law
The government is now proposing that the internet censors of TIB will have to inform a judge about any decision to block a web page, according to the Hurriyet newspaper. The judge would then have to issue a
ruling within 48 hours or the TIB move would be deemed invalid.
Police used water canon
and tear gas on Saturday against hundreds of people protesting against a new Internet law introducing even more censorship for Turkish surfers.
Protesters threw glass bottles, stones and other objects in the direction of heavily armed police
officers, who made several arrests. Later Saturday evening the demonstrators erected barricades and lit fires in garbage cans. The protests are taking place in Istanbul's main shopping area in Istiklal street, near Taksim Square, the site of clashes
between protesters and police in August.
27th February 2013. From todayszaman.com
The Turkish Parliament has amended the Internet censorship bill that has caused outrage in Turkey.
bill was approved by President Abdullah Gul last week, but he asked lawmakers to revise several articles he considered to be anti-democratic. One of the points he highlighted was the need to seek a court order for blocking websites in the hope of
avoiding arbitrary decisions.
Two articles of the controversial Internet censorship law which were considered problematic by the president have been changed three weeks after the bill was approved in Parliament.
According to the changes,
the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) will be able to obtain Internet traffic data only with a court order, except when there is the threat of cyber attack or viruses. The TIB will now need the decision to block content to be approved by a criminal
court of peace within 24 hours and the court will have 48 hours in which to reach a decision.
Turkish police used water cannon and fired teargas to disperse hundreds of protesters that gathered in Istanbul's central Taksim Square on Saturday for a rally calling against a bill that would extend government censorship of the Internet.
rallies have been held around Turkey including the capital Ankara and coastal city of Izmir. In Ankara about 300 protesters gathered chanting slogans opposing the government and the internet bill, calling the Turkish prime minister a dictator.
Activists have called for protests against the law further limiting the use of the Internet and social media. The campaign is circulating the internet with the hashtag #sansu redurde.
The bill that includes the controversial law was
backed by a Turkish parliamentary committee on Thursday. It will be discussed by the National Assembly next week.
The new legislation allows government ministers to block websites deemed to infringe privacy, as well as force internet providers to
retain information on their users, for up to two years. The bill also mandates ISPs to restrict access to proxy sites, making circumventing the censorship nearly impossible.
The new legislation also raises fines for not removing the content
requested by the authorities. If the content is not removed within 24 hours after the request, it will be blocked by the Telecommunications Directorate (TI.B). In addition, web hosting services will be required to become part of a state-controlled
Turkey's top business group has warned that a government-led bill to increase control over the Internet is worrying and the planned regulations might lead to wide censorship of the Internet.
In a written statement, the Turkish Industry and Business
Association (TUSI.AD) noted the issues of freedom of speech, intellectual property and personal secrecy on the Internet should be delicately handled.
The TUSI.AD noted access to thousands of websites has been blocked since Law No. 5651, widely
known as the Internet Law of Turkey, came into effect in July, 2007:
The law, which results in limiting the individual's fundamental rights and freedoms, has also been subject to a 'rights violation' ruling of the
European Court of Human Rights, the statement read. In such a situation, the planned amendments to the law are concerning and will increase censorship on the Internet. The draft should be cleared of articles that could harm the fundamental rights and
freedoms and the Internet economy that is growing every day.
Some articles added to an omnibus bill submitted to Parliament last week will permit authorities to limit access to the Internet and monitor all actions by individuals
online and keep such records for two years. The draft law will permit officials to limit keywords searches more easily, meaning access to videos on video-sharing websites such as YouTube that include keywords deemed problematic by Turkish authorities
will be blocked.
All individuals' Internet records, including details about what sites they have visited, which words they have searched for on the web and what activity they have engaged in on social networking websites, will be kept for one or
two years, according to the draft law.
Websites will be forced to join some sort of registration body controlled by the government. In addition the government has specified that ISPs must censor nominated websites more quickly, and for the
implemented blocking to be more robust against simple circumvention techniques currently used by Turkish people to work around government censorship.
In the case of Yildrim v Turkey the European Court of Human Rights decided that a Court order blocking access to "Google Sites" in Turkey was a violation of Article 10.
Yildrim owned and ran a website hosted by the
Google Sites service, on which he published his academic work and his opinions on various matters. On 23 June 2009 the Denizli Criminal Court of First Instance ordered the blocking of an Internet site whose owner had been accused of insulting
the memory of Atatürk . The order was issued as a preventive measure in the context of criminal proceedings against the site's owner.
The blocking order was submitted for execution to the Telecommunications Directorate (TiB). Shortly
afterwards, the TiB asked the court to extend the scope of the order by blocking access to Google Sites, which hosted not only the site in question but also the applicant's site. The TiB stated that this was the only technical means of blocking
the offending site, as its owner was located abroad.
The TiB blocked all access to Google Sites and Yildrim was thus unable to access his own site. All his subsequent attempts to remedy the situation were unsuccessful because of the
blocking order issued by the court.
The court decided that \the effects of the measure in question had been arbitrary and the judicial review of the blocking of access had been insufficient to prevent abuses. There had therefore been a
violation of Article 10 of the Convention. The court held that Turkey was to pay the applicant 7,500 euros (EUR) in respect of non pecuniary damage.
Evolution, apparently, ranks alongside pornography and terrorism as topics that the Turkish government's controversial new Internet filtering scheme keeps out of the hands of children.
Internet users in Turkey were surprised yesterday to find that
several educational Web sites about evolution were inaccessible. After Hurriyet Daily News reported the censorship, the government reversed the block. But science advocates and Internet freedom activists say it's a worrying sign of the government's
attitude toward evolution.
Turkey's filtering program, which was launched at the end of November, has drawn broad criticism because it filters sites about political opposition to the government and blocks sites that go against conveniently
undefined Turkish values .
Internet users have the option to select either a family, or child, or standard level of censorship. The Turkish Information Technologies and Communication Authority sets the content of each of these options.
Aykut Kence, a biologist at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, told ScienceInsider in an e-mail that antievolution Web sites developed by Harun Yahya remained accessible without any restriction. Yahya is the pen name of Adnan Oktar, a
religious activist who writes creationist textbooks for children and sends them to schools across Europe.
An Internet content filtering system that Turkey's Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) introduced on 22 November is proving controversial.
Although use of the filtering system is optional, it is misleading. It is supposed to
protect Internet users, especially minors from objectionable content by censoring certain keywords. But tests of the new system have established that access to websites is being blocked arbitrarily.
The BTK wants us to believe that, by
giving Internet users a choice, it is not practicing censorship, Reporters Without Borders said:
Claiming that use of this filtering system makes an Internet connection secure is disgraceful. Some websites may be
inaccessible but that does not make the Internet connection any safer.
The proposed solution is not fit for purpose and threatens online free expression, as the Court of Justice of the European Union ruled a week ago, above all
because of the risk of overblocking. If only porn is supposed to be blocked, why are terms related to Kurdish separatist movements, for example, on the list of censored keywords?
We condemn a policy of backdoor censorship. The BTK
must abandon this system, which is reinforcing Internet censorship in Turkey.
Anyone can sign up for the filtering system, which comes in a family version and a child version. So far only 22,000 of the country's 11.5 million Internet
users have signed up.
The filtering criteria are defined by a commission consisting of 11 members. As most of them are government officials, the commission's independence and impartiality are questionable. It has so far drawn up a list of 130 harmful
keywords in Turkish, English and German. The list includes pornography, sex, and Verbot (the German word for ban ). It also includes such words as mother-in-law, incest and even gay.
eclectic and often discriminatory list will extend the censorship to ordinary news websites and prevention campaign sites, while encouraging homophobia. Keywords related to separatist political groups such as the outlawed Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK)
are also filtered, which clearly shows that the BTK is not just targeting online porn.
Yaman Akdeniz, deputy head of the law faculty at Istanbul's Bilgi University and founder of Cyber-Rights, said that the child version blocks access to
Facebook and the online video-sharing website YouTube. Facebook cannot be accessed with the family version either, unless the user specifically requests access. Akdeniz said blocking a five-year-old child's access to YouTube is understandable, but
denying access for adolescents over 14 is exaggerated.
A new internet censorship regime was originally planned to be introduced three months ago, but was postponed until November 22 for technical reasons, according to the government.
In the meantime, tens of thousands of Turks have held protests
across the country under the motto Hands off my Internet! Media outlets and Internet forums have also sharply criticized the plan.
Turkish officials have claimed that the website blocking is voluntary, but organisations that have
researched into the implementation say that this is not the case. The government also claims that the censorship would protect children and youth from objectionable content on the Internet. In addition, separatist propaganda by groups such
as the PKK Kurdish rebel organization is also to be banned.
An 11-member government commission came up with the list of more than 130 search terms deemed harmful. Internet freedom advocates criticized the group's composition, as it was
composed exclusively of officials from the ministries of information and family, and did not include any independent experts. Among the banned search words are the English terms porno, sex, adult, fetish, escort, mature
and gay, as well as the Turkish words for naked, hot, sister-in-law, mother-in-law, stepmother and incest. Curiously enough, the German word Verbot (ban) is also forbidden.
findings from the press freedom organization Reporters Without Borders, access to more than 7,000 Web portals could be either completely blocked or heavily limited. Tthis could also include several online services provided by Google, Myspace and the
video service Vimeo.
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe called the blocking another dimension of censorship, and said it would limit the individual rights to freedom of information.
The Alternative Information
Technologies Association has filed a petition with Turkey's highest administrative court to cancel the blocking legislation, saying the measure is not voluntary, as claimed.
Joe McNamee, of European Digital Rights, an advocacy group based in
Brussels also interprets the blocking as being mandatory, he says calling Web blocking voluntary is far easier politically.
Yaman Akdeniz, a Turkish human rights expert and professor at Bilgi University in Istanbul, said the blocking
was a cornerstone for further censorship of the Internet.
Deutsche Welle report that there is doubt that the blocking will actually come into effect as on November 22.
Turkey's controversial opt in/out website blocking system was developed within the Draft Bill on Principles and Procedures for the Safe Use of the Internet as published by the Council of Information Technologies and Telecommunication (BTK) on 22
Assistant Prof Kerem Altiparmak, member of staff at the Ankara University Faculty of Political Sciences, explained in a statement:
Bianet filed a case with the Council of State requesting to halt
the execution of the Draft on Principles and Procedures for the Safe Use of the Internet that was going to be enforced on 22 August.
Very probably, the BTK contacted the Council of State as a result of the trial. Then, the BTK
made a few amendments in the draft and postponed the application to 22 November.
The Council of State did not dismiss bianet's request to stall the application because it was considered unjust but because the regulations the
request was based on have been changed. In administrative procedures, a trial is being opened once. As the result of the case filed by bianet and the reactions of the public, the administration understood that the regulations were contrary to the law and
The lawyer pointed to the changes in the regulation: The obligation to choose one of the four [filter] profiles has been removed. Furthermore, it was decided that a delegation of ten experts defines the contents of the
internet packages. In the previous regulation the BTK could act the way they wanted.
Altinparmak announced to file another case against the amended regulation that is going to be enforced on 22 November. He also said that they were going to claim
the cost of the previous trial from the administration.
If this trial should be rejected as well, they will apply to the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR), the lawyer indicated.
The original August 22nd 2011 implementation did not go ahead after legal challenge by ISP Bianet
The government watered down the website blocking proposals a bit and delayed the implementation until 22nd November 2011
still not happy and will launch another legal case ahead of the 22nd November implementation date
Turkey's repressive Internet blocking plan, which has drawn criticisms from rights groups, the European Union and web users in Turkey, will come into force Monday.
Based on the Rules and Procedures for the Safety of Internet Use regulation
approved by the Prime Ministry's Information and Communication Technologies Authority, or BTK, in February, Internet users in Turkey will be given the option of signing up for one of two Internet packages: family or children. The list of websites
filtered by each package will be decided by the BTK, but will not be made public.
According to the BTK, those who decide against using a filter will be able to continue accessing the Internet normally. However, the new plan also a very nasty sting
in its tail. Accessing the BTK's banned sites, according to the plan, will be considered a criminal offense, and service providers will be responsible for reporting people who attempt to access the banned sites. Otherwise, they themselves will be charged
with heavy financial penalties.
BTK Chairman Tayfun Acarer claimed the new plan will be launched to protect the youth and children from accessing dangerous and obscene content on the Internet.
A commission of 11 people,
determined by the Family and Social Policies Ministry, will determine the block lists. However, no criteria have been defined by the BTK as to how the blacklist will be determined. The commission doesn't include any legal experts or news media or
communication experts, NTVMSNBC technology editor Noyan Ayan told the Hu rriyet Daily News. Plus we still do not know who determines how and what sites will be banned. Experts say that Turkey's new Internet cyber censorship system is
similar to the one used in China.
Turkey's internet censor TIB has the authority to block all websites that relate to prostitution, child pornography, gambling, and promoting suicide. Furthermore, the TIB has also blocked access to more than one-million websites in internet cafes,
without even any administrative (warnings) procedures.
It was discovered that many blocked websites have not even breached any of the crimes in the scope of the crime catalogue . For instance, a large number of associations, swimwear
companies, shipping companies, model agencies, radio stations, automotive companies, websites of designers, and even some online dictionary/translation websites...
The list of banned websites does not end there. A list of websites that have
previously been blocked and re-opened includes some of the world's most accessed websites such as Google, BBC News, Dailymotion, Facebook, eBay, Amazon, FHM, Superonline , Human Rights Association, Bilyoner gaming website etc.
Yaman Akdeniz said:
In expressing his views on the filtering in internet cafes, Akdeniz explains that TIB has the authority to bar any given website within the scope of the law (for instance displaying
child-pornography and/or obscenity etc) without needing a court order; however, he identifies that TIB is abusing such authority. To filter many websites without them having broken the law is beyond the scope of Law 5651 and the TIB's authority. As
such, it can only be recognised as arbitrary administrative measures and censorship .
Marietje Schaake, a member of the European Parliament from the Liberal group, submitted questions to the European Commission regarding the proposed legal imposition of an online filtering system and structural domain-name blocking in Turkey.
her question paper, Schaake asked the commission what concrete actions it would take regarding the Turkish government to address its concerns about the proposed censorship of the Internet ... and the overall increasing deterioration in freedom
of the press in Turkey.
Saying that an uncensored, free Internet is essential for a free and open society, Schaake said she posed her questions to the commission because she believe[s] the latest censorship [in Turkey] may well be in
conflict with the Copenhagen criteria for EU accession.
The proposed online filtering system violates the people's right to information, restricts freedom of expression and is a threat for democracy, Schaake said.
Thousands of people in Turkey took to the streets yesterday to protest government plans for compulsory internet filtering.
All connections in the country will have to choose between four different levels of interference in their internet access.
There were demonstrations in Istanbul and 40 cities around the country. Thousands of people carried banners marked Yes we ban! and We will not bow to censorship .
The Information Technologies Board is proposing people choose a
child profile, family profile, domestic or standard profile for their connection. It is also proposing a ban on certain words from internet addresses.
Thousands have gathered in more than 30 cities around Turkey in order to protest a new system of Internet censorship.
Protesters in Taksim Square in Istanbul called the action, which government related regulators claim is intended to protect
minors, an assault on personal freedom and liberty and an act of censorship in Turkey.
Protesters organized coordinated demonstrations on social networking sites such as Facebook in dozens of cities around Turkey on Sunday. They carried posters
reading Don't touch my Internet! during a march down I.stanbul's I.stiklal Street, which was attended by ten-thousands. Among the slogans people cheered, The Internet is ours and will remain ours! . In addition to street protests, about one
million people joined campaigns organised online to protest the new regulation, which is claimed to mark the death of Internet in Turkey. The filtering is considered to be as unlawful and arbitrary .
Responding to criticism that ISP website blocking, which is set to be implemented this summer, would turn the internet into a government-controlled structure, a Turkish official claimed that the control will be with users.
Tayfun Acerer, the head
of the Prime Ministry's Information Technologies Board, or BTK, claims The new regulations are for the benefit of users
Under a decision on Rules and Procedures of the Safety of Internet Use, approved by the BTK in February, Internet
users in Turkey will have to choose one of four Internet packages:
children: the most restrictive
domestic: all websites from outside Turkey are blocked
standard: currently blocked sites will continue to be blocked, but the voluntary blocks will not be applied
The blocking options will be implemented starting Aug. 22.
The news portal Bianet.org has filed a complaint to the Council of State, arguing that existing Turkish legislation gives the BTK no authority to make and enforce such a decision.
According to the Washington-based advocacy group Freedom House, Internet censorship is on the rise in Turkey, where around 5,000 websites have been banned since 2001.
If we define the current structure of the Internet as the standard profile,
then the changes can be seen as an addition to the current structure, Acerer said. He added that the BTK would decide the cost for subscribing to a particular package, but the actual transfer will be free of charge.
Users can either choose
to continue with their current profile, or switch to another package, Acerer said, adding that the standard package will apply by default and that users who want to switch to another package will have to request it.
Republican People's Party,
or CHP, deputy leader Emrehan Halici said Thursday that the new regulations are the death warrant of the Internet in Turkey.
Some 400,000 people will gather in several provinces of Turkey to protest the Information and Communication
Technologies Authority, or BTK, which previously unveiled a content-filtering plan. The rally in Istanbul will take place on Istiklal Avenue's Galatasaray Square on May 15, bearing the catchphrase Don't touch my Internet.
A request made by the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate, or TIB, to ban a total of 138 words from Turkish Internet domain names has no legal basis and has left companies unsure of what action to take, according to experts.
Providing a list
and urging companies to take action to ban sites that contain the words and threatening to punish them if they don't has no legal grounds, Yaman Akdeniz, a cyber-rights activist and a law professor at Istanbul Bilgi University, told the Hu rriyet
Daily News. Akdeniz said no authority could decide that an action was illegal just by association.
The TIB cited the Internet ban law number 5651 and related legislation as the legal ground for its request. The law, however, does not authorize
firms to take action related to banning websites.
The hosting company is not responsible for controlling the content of the websites it provides domains to or researching/exploring on whether there is any illegal activity or not. They are
responsible for removing illegal content when they are informed and there is the technical possibility of doing so, according to Article 5 of the law.
The list of banned words has caused many scratching of heads
The effect of the TIB's
request could see the closure of many websites that include a number of words. For example, the website donanimalemi.com (hardwareworld.com) could be banned because the domain name has the word animal in it; likewise, sanaldestekunitesi.com,
(virtualsupportunit.com) could be closed down because of the word anal. Websites will also be forbidden from using the number 31 in their domain names because it is slang for male masturbation.
Some banned English words include beat,
escort, homemade, hot, nubile, free and teen. Some other English words would also be banned because of their meanings in Turkish: pic, short for picture, is banned because it means bastard in
Turkish. The past tense of the verb get is also banned because got means butt in Turkish. Haydar, a very common Alevi name for men, is also banned because it means penis in slang.
Gay , naked, confession, high school
student, breath and forbidden are some of the other banned words.
In his speech this week, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan claimed that he doesn't understand why foreigners are all talking about the lack of freedom of speech in Turkey.
Justice and Development Party, or AKP, Vice President Hu seyin Celik
said Turkey was years ahead in its legislation and many times more free in terms of press freedom than the United States.
However, I understand that this vagueness will go on and will spread to the government's Internet
regulations. After Aug. 22 we will have a totally different system. The government is so kind and father-like that it wants us to be fully protected from any kind of harm that the Internet can bring about. This is why they have decided to provide
Internet services to us filtered from the source. It is too much hassle to ban websites one by one, therefore they will have bundles and lists. According to the current plans there will be four types of bundles available.
These will be called
Standart Profile (Standart Profil), Children's Profile (Cocuk Profili), Family Profile (Aile Profili) and Domestic Internet Profile (Yurtici Internet Profili). All of these profiles will be censored to various degrees so that we will be protected just as
our profile needs to be, because our government knows best.
Each profile will have two lists assigned; A black one and a white one. In the black list there will be websites that will be banned and in the white one there will be websites that are
allowed to be surfed.
The government says that they ban websites at the source so that our children will be fully protected. There will be no room for the human error of parents. Banning websites will be fully automatic. However, the people who
will be in charge of these practices and the standardization of establishing these lists are very vague. The government will be able to censor any website at will. You won't even notice it.
I would also kindly like to warn any foreigners against
deigning to think that the new system to be introduced on Aug. 22 violates freedoms. And please don't voice your concerns. Our prime minister can get angry at you. In fact, don't even try to understand it because our government is way ahead of you.
A ban on Google's blogging platform, Blogger, is expected to fully go into effect within a few days unless it is successfully challenged in court.
A spat over rights to broadcast Turkish football matches has led a local court to issue a blanket
ban on the popular blogging platform Blogger, angering Turkish Internet users with what experts said was a disproportionate response.
The court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakir banned the website in response to a complaint by the
satellite television provider Digiturk, which owns the broadcast rights to Turkish Super League games. Matches broadcast on Digiturk's Lig TV channel had been illegally posted by several Blogger users on their blogs.
This is a disproportionate
response by the court and undoubtedly has a huge impact on all law-abiding citizens, cyber-rights activist Yaman Akdeniz told the Hu rriyet Daily News & Economic Review, adding that millions of Turkish bloggers and blog readers would be
affected by the Diyarbakir court decision.
There are more than 600,000 Turkish bloggers actively using Blogger and some 18 million users from Turkey visited pages hosted by the site last month, Akdeniz said.
If two people plan a
criminal activity on the phone, should we ban the use of telephones all over the country? asked Deniz Ergu rel, the secretary-general of the Media Association.
Bloggers and their readers reacted angrily and quickly to the court
decision, with nearly 9,000 users of the social-networking website Facebook joining a group called Do not touch my blog in less than two days after the decision was announced. Similar campaigns have also been created on other websites, such as
The row over who can broadcast football matches in Turkey has now led to Google's Blogger site being blocked.
Google confirmed the Blogger ban in a statement and
said those with worries about piracy should turn to its easy to use takedown systems rather than seek a wholesale shutdown.
The process for making a copyright claim for content uploaded to Blogger is straightforward and efficient, and we
encourage all content owners to use it rather than seek a broad ban on access to the service, said a spokesperson.
Update: Turkish internet users not happy about shameful censorship
In the wake of the court ban, many people have launched protests on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook against the ban imposed on blogspot.com. Thousands of people became members of the Don't Touch My Blog page opened on Facebook.
People are calling for everyone to condemn Internet bans, boycott Digiturk and change DNS settings as well as opposing the current Internet law that makes such bans possible.
A statement released by bloggers at blogumadokunma.tumblr.com said: Digiturk, Google and the Republic of Turkey should be sensitive about the censoring shame from now on, all the anti-censor Internet users should support this movement, and all members of the press should lend their support to freedom of expression.
Tansel Parlak, an activist from the Young Civilians, a nongovernmental organization famous for its use of sarcasm in its protests, said the bans imposed on the Internet in Turkey have gone beyond being tragic-comic and become stupid. It is
like cutting all the trees in a forest when you just need a few of them, he said.
Parlak also criticized Digiturk for triggering such a ban and taking a side against bloggers. He said the company's move has prompted many Digiturk subscribers
to boycott the company due to the bans imposed on their blogs, which goes against the company's interests in the end. Parlak suggested loopholes in the current legislation that make such bans possible should be eliminated, and legal amendments should
immediately be made to prevent further bans on the Internet.
Access to Google's
blogging platform Blogger was banned two weeks ago by a local court in Diyarbakir upon a complaint by Digiturk.
New evidence showing that Google had taken action against copyright violators led a prosecutor's office in Southeast Turkey to decide
Monday to lift the ban on Blogger.
Cyber-rights activist Yaman Akdeniz said: The prosecutor's office in the Southeast province of Diyarbak?r -- home of the court that issued the ban -- decided to lift the ban after the expert opinion found that
the accounts linked to the IP addresses on which Digiturk had filed its complaint had been deactivated by Google.
A European court has asked Turkish authorities to explain their use of the country's law to ban websites, responding to applications by two complainants who say the bans violate their right to freedom of expression.
Users of different websites
are being punished because others infringe legal provisions, said complainant Yaman Akdeniz, a cyber-rights activist and a law professor at Istanbul Bilgi University. He applied to the European Court of Human Rights on April 6, arguing that the
Turkish government's ban on the website Myspace.com violated his rights.
The decision to consider the case is a landmark one, Akdeniz said, explaining that it was the first time the court had taken up a complaint related to Internet bans.
The court's final decision will set an important precedent for all Council of Europe member countries, Akdeniz told the Hu rriyet Daily News & Economic Review.
Responding to the applications by Akdeniz and another Turkish
complainant, the European court issued a request last month to Turkish authorities, asking them to answer by June 9, three questions of a general nature about the use of Turkish law to ban certain websites. The court asked Turkish authorities for
explanations regarding the application of legal provisions to ban websites, Akdeniz told the Daily News.
Fellow complainant Ahmet Yıldırım, a doctoral student at Boğaziçi University in Istanbul, applied to the
European court Jan. 12, 2010, saying his personal website on Google Sites, which he used to publish his academic work, had been banned by Turkey.
An obsession with child protection in the UK and throughout the EU is encouraging a cavalier approach to law-making, which less democratic regimes are using to justify much broader repression on any speech seen as extreme or dangerous.
the accusation made by academic and online legal expert, Dr Yaman Akdeniz, at last week's Onscenity Conference in London. Dr Akdeniz, now an Associate Professor of Law with Istanbul's Bilgi University, was concerned with what he saw as a domino effect
He said: The UK and EU are supporting measures that allow for websites to be censored on the basis of purely administrative processes, without need for judicial oversight.
The possible renewal of the ban on the popular website YouTube after just three days brought the Internet law and the struggle against it to the spotlight once more.
YouTube was one of approximately 5,000 sites with denied access. It was banned in
2008 due to four videos denigrating Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey.
While the top officials of Turkey, including President Abdullah Gul, criticize the restrictions on the Internet, civil society's struggle for
Internet freedom is increasing. Meanwhile, it is expected that there will be some legal amendments regarding Internet freedom and some new regulations for the Internet media, especially news sites, but there are already some concerns about their scope.
The Internet restrictions in Turkey are a subject criticized by the EU. There are frequent website bans which are disproportionate in scope and duration, according to the latest EU progress report, which was issued at the beginning of this
week, Law No. 5651 … limits freedom of expression and restricts citizens' right to access information.
Actually, YouTube is not the only popular site that has been banned. Wordpress.org, from which more than 3.5 million people are
blocked, geocities.com, myspace.com and dailyMotion.com are among the sites banned in Turkey.
But as restrictions on Internet pages are increasing, so is the resistance against them. There are many civil society organizations fighting the bans and
new regulations. They are also organized in the Joint Platform against Censorship.
The platform and some other civil society organizations planned a public rally against restrictions on the Internet in Istanbul's Taksim Square this summer and
demanded the abolishment of Law 5651 and a new law, prepared in accordance with the principles of democracy and participation of the civil society, to replace it.
A new Internet law is on the agenda, but it is not clear if it will be ready before
the general elections. It is also expected that there will be a new law, which will regulate the Internet media, especially news sites, Murat Karakaya, the general director of the Prime Ministry Press and Information Office, pointed out.
declaration of the Joint Platform against Censorship points out that Law No. 5651 was rushed through Parliament just before it was dissolved for the 2007 general elections and that it did not receive broad public support before or after its enactment.
This time it should be different and the opinion of the civil society universities and experts, including bar associations, should be consulted regarding the possible new bill.
Turkey has reinstated its block on YouTube – this time because it is showing a naughty clip of an opposition politician in a hotel bedroom with a female party member.
Access to YouTube from Turkey was reinstated at the weekend after clips
insulting the country's founder Mustafa Kemal Atatürk were removed on copyright grounds. According to Turkish law, it is illegal to insult Ataturk. Google then decided the vids were not infringing anyone's copyright after all, and put them back on
But a court in Ankara ruled that Turkey's telecoms ministry should again block access, Bloomberg reported.
Despite the earlier news that Turkey has lifted its ban on YouTube after almost 2.5 years, YouTube reinstated the four videos that were removed by a licensing agency in Germany.
YouTube, in a
statement circulated in Turkish stated that the four videos did not violate its copyright violation policy and therefore they were put back into the system.
I did verify the statement and the four videos are
available where they were used to be available. YouTube also announced that it continues to use a local blocking system and therefore Turkish users will not be able to see these videos from Turkey if YouTube remains accessible from Turkey.
However, those videos will be available and accessible from outside Turkey.
I remains to be seen how the Turkish authorities will react to this action by YouTube but I strongly suspect that they will issue a new
injunction to block access to YouTube.
Turkey has lifted its ban on YouTube, two years after it blocked access to the website because of videos deemed insulting to the country's founder.
Transport Minister Binali Yildirim, who is in charge of internet issues, said the government had
been in contact with Google, which owns YouTube.
Yildirim said there was no longer any reason to ban the website, because the offending videos had been removed. I hope that [Google] have also learned from this experience and the same
thing will not happen again. YouTube will hopefully carry out its operations in Turkey within the limits of law in the future, he added.
The video clip prompting the ban was reportedly posted by Greek users of the website and dubbed Ataturk
and Turks homosexuals.
In a statement, YouTube said that it had received reports that some users in Turkey were once again able to access its content. We want to be clear that a third party, not YouTube, have apparently removed some of the
videos that have caused the blocking of YouTube in Turkey using our automated copyright complaint process, it explained. We are investigating whether this action is valid in accordance with our copyright policy, the company added.
The 22.5 million Turkish members of Facebook may lose access to the popular social-networking site, Facebook, as a result of a court case filed by an opposition leader.
A government minister who has defended Turkey's bans on YouTube and other
popular websites hinted that Facebook could share the same fate.
The latest Internet controversy was sparked when lawyers for Kemal Kiliçdaroglu, the leader of the Republican People's Party (CHP) filed a criminal complaint over a Facebook group
claiming that the opposition leader was a member of the outlawed Kurdistan Workers' Party (PKK).
Addressing rumors that Facebook might be banned as a result, Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım said that 30 judicial decisions
had been issued to ban the site in Turkey.
The minister said Turkey is a state of law and that the government cannot intervene in the decisions made by the judiciary.
Yıldırım has previously made similar comments about the
banning of video- sharing portal YouTube, arguing that its parent company, Google, should open an office in Turkey, pay taxes and answer the legal demands regarding its content. YouTube has been banned in the country by several court orders acting on
complaints about content insulting the memory of Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, the founder of modern Turkey.
Dunja Mijatovic, the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe (OSCE) Representative on Freedom of the Media, has urged the Turkish authorities to restore access to YouTube and other services offered by Google, and bring the much-criticized
Law No. 5651 - known as the Internet Law - in line with international standards on free expression.
I ask the Turkish authorities to revoke the blocking provisions that prevent citizens from being part of today's global information society. I
also ask them to carry out a very much needed reform of Law No. 5651, said Mijatovic.
In a letter sent to Turkish Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, Mijatovic expressed concern about new blocking provisions imposed earlier this month.
I am alarmed by the decision of the Turkish Telecommunications Communication Presidency to block access to dozens of Internet Protocol addresses related to YouTube and Google services. As a result, since early June several services
related to Google - including popular services like Analytics or Translate - have been either unattainable, or access to them has become very slow, she wrote.
My Office has been promoting the urgent reform of Law No.
5651, because it considerably limits freedom of expression and severely restricts citizens' right to access information, she added.
More than 5,000 websites have been blocked in Turkey during the last two years. The
recent blocking is a worrisome indicator that instead of allowing free access to the Internet, new ways have emerged that can further restrict the free flow of information in the country.
Turkey has put all Google services on a bad boys internet list leading to partial, blocking, slow access and timeouts.
The latest access restrictions seem related to the government's ongoing attempts to block YouTube. Access to Google's video
service was cut off in 2008 after complaints that videos critical of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk the founder of modern Turkey were available on the YouTube site. Criticism of Turkey, or any insult to Turkishness, is a criminal offence in that
A Google spokesman said in an emailed statement:
We have received reports that some Google applications are unable to be accessed in Turkey. The difficulty in accessing some Google services in
Turkey appears to be linked to the ongoing ban on YouTube. We are working to get our services back up as soon as possible.
Meanwhile, a report at a website called The National Turk, which appears to be based at least in part on
news stories from the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, says that:
The Telecommunication and communication Ministry (TIB), a government body that can control Internet accessibility in Turkey is attempting to block
certain IP's (Internet Protocol Addresses) belonging to Google due to legal reason . Some ADSL company's and Internet services providers have sent their customers E-mail's and letters informing them of inaccessibility or the slow use of certain
Google services [sic throughout].
ISPs in the country have reportedly told users that they would suffer accessibility problems to Google's home page in Turkey, websites that use Google Analytics, and use of the Google
Toolbar. Another Turkish news site, Hurriyet Daily News, says that the access restrictions could be a result of the government trying to block specific DNS addresses that relate to Google, as part of its ongoing attempts to block YouTube.
According to reports from Turkish news sources, the government is saying that Google is responsible for the range of IP addresses that are being blocked due to the court order regarding YouTube, and therefore it is up to the company to correct the problem.
Update: Academics to Appeal Against Turkish Google Ban
Media Freedom Activists Bring Lawsuit against Google Ban
Yaman Akdeniz from Bilgi University and Kerem Altiparmak from Ankara University will appeal to tban on certain Google services imposed by the Telecommunication Communication Presidency.
The Ankara 1st Magistrate Criminal Court had banned access to the global social networking site YouTube.com, the video service owned by Google, with a decision from 4 May 2008. In order to increase the effect of this decision, certain services of
Google which are activated under the same IP numbers are blocked now as well.
Yaman Akdeniz told bianet that he was not sure whether this problem could be overcome. The access to Google Analytics has become very troublesome, Akdeniz said to name
just one example. Google Analytics offers web analytics for enterprises to gain insights into website traffic and marketing effectiveness.
Akdeniz emphasized that the actual problem is based on the latest implementations of TI.B to make access to
Google services more difficult and even fully block access in certain situations: This application is exaggerated. YouTube has been blocked anyways. New measures to make access even more difficult are harming the other Google services. This is nothing
else but censorship. This is an extreme and contradictory application which is unacceptable in a democratic society.
Reporters without Borders (RSF) also condemned the increasing censorship on Google in Turkey: It is time the Turkish
authorities demonstrated their commitment to free expression by putting an end to the censorship that affects thousands of websites in Turkey and by overhauling Law 5651 on the Internet, which allows this sort of mass blocking of sites .
Update: Turkish president tweets against Google ban
The Turkish courts banned YouTube in May 2008, and now a new protest campaign launched by the editorial team of the Milliyet newspaper is drawing attention to how long the country has been prevented from using the website.
The initiative, which
was was launched on February 19, is not the first campaign of this type. But it's notable because previous protests came from the blogosphere and, as a result, did not receive international coverage. The current ban is the fourth such action by the
Turkish courts since 2007; hopefully, this campaign will draw attention to this policy of censorship.
The editors of Milliyet were inspired to act by a February 16 piece in the Wall Street Journal by David Keyes, a founding member of
Cyberdissidents.org. Keyes wrote that there is nothing European, let alone cultural, about prohibiting citizens from viewing YouTube. Turkey's status as the 2010 European 'Capital of Culture' should be suspended until this ban is repealed.
In announcing the protest campaign, Milliyet columnist Mehves, Emin said:
Everybody has changed their DNS settings and can access YouTube, just like the Prime Minister does and has said he does. This is why people have become insensitive about this ban. But YouTube is still blocked in Turkey and this affects Turkey's image
negatively and this issue needs to be resolved. So as the editorial team of Milliyet Cadde, we agreed to show everyday how many days have passed since the ban.
Europe's main security and human rights watchdog said Monday Turkey was blocking some 3,700 Internet sites for arbitrary and political reasons and urged legal reforms to show its commitment to freedom of expression.
Milos Haraszti, media
freedom monitor for the 56-nation Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said Turkey's Internet law was failing to preserve free expression in the country and should be reformed or abolished.
In its current form, Law 5651
not only limits freedom of expression, but severely restricts citizens right to access information, Haraszti said in a statement.
He said Turkey, a European Union candidate, was barring access to 3,700 Internet sites, including YouTube,
GeoCities and some Google pages, because Ankara's Internet law was too broad and subject to political interests.
Turkey's Internet Technologies Association, or INETD, has applied to the European Court of Human Rights seeking the annulment of a ban imposed on access to a popular video-sharing site.
Access to YouTube has been banned in Turkey since May 5,
2008, after complaints were made about video clips insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, the founder of modern Turkey.
INETD President Mustafa Akgl said the group's suit was filed in the name of the public and all those who have suffered
as a result of the ban. Turkey is literally waging war on the Internet, said Akgl, adding that the ban on YouTube is in violation of the Constitution and various articles of the European Human Rights Convention.
INETD had exhausted
the entire domestic appeal process without any result and was thus forced to apply to the European court last week, the group's president said.
The main aspect of the lawsuit is based on Article 10 of the European convention regarding freedom of
expression. The association said that while it is possible to filter and block certain video clips on the Web site, a blanket ban on an international sharing platform is a disproportionate curtailment of freedom of expression.
The ban was
issued without any trial and, instead of being a short-term ban, has been in force for more than a year now. There was no attempt to seek an explanation either, Akgl said, calling the ban a legal disaster.
Two months ago, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Turkey’s prime minister, stunned the public by admitting that he has joined hundreds of thousands of his fellow citizens in doing something that the country’s courts say is forbidden: watch clips on the
internet video portal YouTube.
Commenting on an unrelated political issue, Erdogan told reporters that they should get on YouTube. When a reporter remarked that access to YouTube is blocked in Turkey, Erdogan replied: I get in,
you can do so as well.
Access to YouTube in Turkey was blocked in May, following a decision of a court in Ankara that reacted to a clip allegedly insulting Turkey’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Comments like the one by Mr Erdogan show
that the ban is very unpopular and widely ignored, but observers say the blockage is unlikely to be lifted as long as the law behind it is still on the books.
The law was a mistake and the implementation is flawed, said Ibrahim Sarioglu,
general secretary of the All Internet Association, or TID, an internet lobby group that has several leading telecommunications companies among its members.
Sarioglu said the law, officially known as the Law Concerning the Regulation of Internet
Broadcasts and the Fight against Crimes Committed via these Broadcasts, which came into effect in late 2007, has put Turkey on the list of countries that practise censorship.
YouTube is not the only popular website that has been a victim
of a ban in Turkey: Wordpress, Geocities and the Turkish Google Groups were also hit with temporary bans in the past, triggering fears Turkey’s image abroad may be damaged.
I do not want to see Turkey among those countries in the world
that ban YouTube, Abdullah Gul, the president, said in a recent television interview.
Sarioglu said the internet law made it difficult to get rid of bans as courts in Turkey can without a hearing close down access to a website if the website
or it content is deemed to cause offence. To get access re-established, the owner of the website or a Turkish citizen who argues that the ban causes him harm can apply to the judiciary. In the case of YouTube, no one has filed a case yet to get access
cleared, Sarioglu said. This is Turkey. People are afraid of the state.
The TID has applied to the Danistay, the top administrative court in Turkey, to get the law revoked. The Danistay could also decide to ask the constitutional court to
declare the law null and void, Sarioglu said. But the legal battle will take time. It may take two years or even longer for the Danistay to reach a decision in the TID’s case.
The transport minister, Binali Yildirim, whose responsibilities
include telecommunications, admitted last month the application of the law was causing trouble. “There are mistakes stemming from the interpretation of the law, Yildirim said, referring to the frequent court decisions to ban websites: Unfortunately, the YouTube matter has reached a point beyond the original aim
of the ban.
Erdogan’s comments, however, showed that many Turks have found ways to get around the bans. Following the prime minister’s advice to the reporters on board his plane to India, several Turkish media provided tips on how
to beat the YouTube ban. The website is believed to be the 9th most popular in Turkey and the television news channel CNN-Turk estimated last year that about 1.5 million access it every day.
Google implemented a technique that would prevent access to videos that clearly violated Turkish law, but only in Turkey.
For a time, her solution seemed to satisfy the Turkish judges, who restored YouTube access. But last June, as part of a
campaign against threats to symbols of Turkish secularism, a Turkish prosecutor made a sweeping demand: that Google block access to the offending videos throughout the world, to protect the rights and sensitivities of Turks living outside the country.
Google refused, arguing that one nation's government shouldn't be able to set the limits of speech for Internet users worldwide. Unmoved, the Turkish government today continues to block access to YouTube in Turkey.
A delegation from the European Parliament urged Turkish officials to make the necessary legal arrangements to enhance freedom of expression and eventually lift the ban on access to YouTube.
Banning YouTube, Google's blogging site, the websites
of a teachers' trade union, Richard Dawkins and even a Turkish dictionary stands alongside more than 40 cases against writers and journalists even since the reform of the so-called anti-Turkishness article of the penal code, Richard Howitt, the vice
president of the European Parliament's Human Rights Sub-Committee, said in a written statement on Friday.
The British Euro MP called for the ban to be overturned at a meeting with Turkish Justice Minister Mehmet Ali Sahin in Ankara on Thursday,
the statement added.
Howitt criticized the ban, saying that around 1,000 websites are blocked in Turkey and this places the country alongside some of the world's worst nations for cyber censorship. As a modern country looking forward to European
Union membership, Turkey should be embracing new communications rather than putting itself in the same bracket as some of the world's pariah states, Howitt added in the statement.
Reporters Without Borders condemns Turkey's censorship of Google's blog services, Blogger and Blogspot, by a magistrate's court in the southeastern city of Diyarbakir as a result of a complaint by the Turkish TV station Digitrk. The station
claims that video footage over which it has exclusive rights has been posted on blogs hosted by these services.
The blogs on these services were suddenly closed without any warning to users and without any court summonses being issued, Reporters Without Borders said:
This is not just about copyright and piracy. This is yet another example of how, in Turkey, entire websites are closed just because of problematic content on a single page or blog. We call for Blogger and Blogspot to be reopened. Their closure has
handicapped thousands of Internet users in Turkey.
Access to some 10 websites, including very popular ones such as YouTube, Dailymotion and Google Groups, have been blocked in the course of this year in Turkey as a result of court decisions.
In most cases, access was blocked under Law 5651 on the Prevention of Crime Committed in the Information Technology Domain, which was adopted by parliament in May 2007 and took effect the following November.
Reporters Without Borders warned of
the danger this law represents for online free expression when it was approved by President Ahmet Necdet Sezer on 22 May 2007.
Commenting on the latest developments, Reporters Without Borders said: All this arbitrary blocking of websites has
demonstrated that this law is the main source for the deterioration in online free expression. Furthermore, ISPs are forced to do the blocking of access to sites that break this law. This makes them accomplices to censorship.
freedom organisation added: We call for Law 5651 to be amended as quickly as possible. Rather than block an entire website, only the content regarded as 'sensitive' should be the challenged before the courts.
As of today access to the popular blogging website Blogger.com has been blocked in Turkey.
A blocking order was issued by Diyarbakir First Criminal Court of Peace.
The reason for issuing the order ban is unknown but a considerable
number of Turkish users are affected.
Update: Football Rights Freakery
27th October 2008
It is now being reported by Turk.internet.com that the blocking
order is related to an intellectual property infringement. Digitrk is a subscription based digital TV platform in Turkey which owns the right to transmit the live coverage of the Turkish football league games. Digitrk obtained the
blocking order through the Diyarbakir court according to the Turk.internet.com news as there were blog entries providing information and links to known websites which transmit pirated transmission of the live football league games.