A Turkish court has again blocked access to the popular video-sharing Web site YouTube because of clips allegedly insulting the
country's founding father.
It was the second time Turkey banned the site because of clips deemed disrespectful to Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. It is illegal in Turkey to insult the revered figure, whose portrait still hangs in nearly all government offices nearly 70 years after
Users trying to access the Web site from Turkey were met with notices in English and Turkish saying it was banned under an Ankara court order issued Jan. 17.
It was not clear how long the current ban would last.
Today we got a letter from the head of the number one Turkish atheist site which has been removed by the Turkish government
twice. Once under the original domain and again under another domain. Unfortunately, the owner is unable to fight this in court because to do so, he would have to identify himself which, if you're familiar, will end up resulting in his head being
chopped off by the peaceful and loving Muslims who work for Allah. If you speak Turkish and you are an atheist please support this site:
Ateizm.org , the most prominent non-profit Turkish web site on atheism and religions was closed for the second time in December 2007, under orders from a Turkish court. Ateizm.org was established in 2000 by three young Turkish atheists who devoted
themselves to the enlightenment of Turkish people. Ateizm.org hosts an online discussion board named Ateistforum
, one of the busiest forums for the Turkish speaking online community over the Internet.
Many aspects of Ateizm.org are considered to be revolutionary for Turkey. First time in the history of Turkey every conceivable aspect of Islam is being openly, scientifically, honestly and courageously discussed and criticized. Over the years
many thousands of articles appeared in the forum, many of which referred to the verses of Koran and Hadits. With the possible exception of Ilhan Arsel and Turan Dursun's studies, Koran had never been criticized in Turkey so much before. In
addition to these short communications, numerous satires, short stories, poems, comments and lengthy articles were published. A few years after the inception of Ateizm.org, a separate science forum was established and started to enlighten young
During its lifetime Ateizm.org was hacked three times and experienced some serious hosting problems. We survived all of them with flying colors and started over wherever we had left. Last year, however, our web site encountered a different and
more ominous kind of problem. In June 2007, without warning, our web site was closed to its Turkish audience with a court order based on a legal action taken by a Turkish creationist named "Adnan Oktar" (now widely known by his pen name
"Harun Yahya"Eye-wink. Since ateizm.org was hosted in the US, it remained accessible from abroad, but inaccessible to its main audience in Turkey. If we hired a lawyer and challenged the court order, we probably would have won our case.
But we do not want to disclose our identities. This is our biggest weakness. According to our lawyer, there is no way to take a legal action in Turkey and remain anonymous at the same time. Many Turkish intellectuals who were against Islam and
outspoken about their views on religion were murdered by Islamic fundamentalists in the past. We do not want to risk our lives.
Since we were unable to challenge the court order, we chose to change our domain name to Ateizm1.org and remained in operation. We continued to bitterly criticize a Turkish creationist organization called "Science Research Foundation"
("Bilim Arastirma Vakfi" or "BAV"Eye-wink and its honorary president Harun Yahya. In December 2007 Ateizm.org (then called Ateizm1.org) was closed to Turkish audience for the second time by another court order.
During 2007 Turkish Telecom has been busy blocking access to many other web sites(*), including YouTube, but they had to back off from YouTube ban due to public outrage.
We know that if Turkish media or Turkish Government is criticized in Europe or US, they listen and pay more attention to it. Becoming a full member of the European Union is crucial for Turks, therefore whenever issues related to democracy, freedom
of speech, human rights and alike are raised in the West, they are taken seriously, sometimes even addressed by the government, particularly if the issue is something that affects Turkey's image or credibility in the West. Therefore it is vitally
important that we find prominent international allies eager to support our cause by publicizing this issue as much as possible. We need a lot of noise!
Some of the web sites blocked by Turkish Telecom in 2007:
Access to a total of 294 Web sites has been blocked in Turkey since November of last year following the establishment of an Internet bureau within the Department of Telecommunications.
Telecommunications Director Fethi Simsek, in an interview with a correspondent from Anatolia, said 294 Web sites have been permanently shut down for reasons such as obscenity, encouraging people to gamble and for insults directed at Turkey's founder
Atatürk and the Turkish nation since last November.
Simsek said most of these Web sites were blocked for violating Article 226 of the Turkish Penal Code on obscenity, Article 227 on prostitution, Article 228 on gambling, Article 13 over the sexual abuse of children and Article 190 on the use of drugs.
Reporters Without Borders is astonished that access to the video-sharing website YouTube has again been blocked again in Turkey since 5 May
as a result of court orders issued by Ankara magistrate courts on 24 and 30 April. The grounds for blocking the website were not given in either case.
Reporters Without Borders said. This is the third time in less than two months that YouTube has been blocked in Turkey. The authorities do not need to block an entire website just because of a few videos they consider shocking.'
Doing this is an abuse, as YouTube is able to stop the distribution of offending videos in any given country.
Law 5651 on the organisation of online publications and the fight against crime committed by means of such publications, in effect since November 2007, enables a prosecutor to get a website banned within 24 hours if its content is deemed likely to
incite suicide, paedophilia, drug use, obscenity, prostitution or offend the memory of Atatrk, the Turkish republic'
This law opens the door to too many abuses, Reporters Without Borders said. Its collateral damage has included the blocking of entire sites such as YouTube, Indymedia Istanbul and WordPress. We urge the authorities to amend Law 5621 so that
people can express themselves freely on the Internet again. Turkey has a legislative arsenal that places too many restrictions on freedom of expression.
A two-day workshop sponsored by the Ankara Bar Association and turk.internet.com was organized on June 18 and 19 to discuss Web site censure issues in an attempt to produce possible solutions.
Popular video-sharing Web site YouTube had been banned by court order in Turkey for one-and-a-half months when it was lifted on Tuesday night -- only to be reintroduced at 10 a.m. Wednesday morning through another court decision.
The Web site was banned yet again for hosting a video insulting Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, the founder of the Turkish Republic. The bans on YouTube have been frequent in the past few months, sparking serious debate over a law that regulates Web site
content and Internet publishing, which has been criticized for restricting freedom of expression.
The frequent YouTube bans are a major embarrassment for Turkey internationally, as they place the country alongside China, Pakistan and Thailand, the only other countries to ban YouTube so far. By mid-April, 321 Web sites were banned under the Internet
Publications Law and another 102 under other laws in Turkey.
The workshop heard of problems with existing Turkish legislation such that Web site owners were not given a chance to defend their Web site content. The law is also very problematic in that its ambiguous description of obscenity.
As a remedy, Web site owners attending the workshop suggested partial bans that would block only the illegal content and not the entire site. Experts also suggested that the authority to ban access to Web sites be given to specialized courts only, to
avoid arbitrariness in Web site ban rulings.
The major reason for most of these bans, Telecommunications Authority Internet Department head Osman Nihat Sen explained, were complaints filed by individual citizens. Under the law, the police must relay these complaints to prosecutors, who are in turn
legally obliged to act on them and launch court processes. The courts, in turn, have to rule in accordance with the current Internet publishing laws, which criminalize ambiguously defined offences, such as insulting Atatrk or encouraging suicide
He also said that 10,103 complaints had been registered with the Telecommunications Authority as of June 16. One hundred seventy of these complaints caused a Web site to be blocked by court decision, and 314 more sites were blocked automatically after
complaints were received, without resorting to a court. Warnings were issued to 22 Web sites, and inappropriate content was removed, Sen added: We do not have the authority to block Web sites promoting the terrorist Kurdistan Workers Party [PKK].
Even when there are complaints about this kind of content, we cannot remove them. There are also videos insulting the prime minister, Islam and the Turkish flag. Those videos cannot be interfered with, because the law does not say anything about those
issues. Turkey behaves like an ostrich, sticking its head in the sand. We have to implement the law.
Law No. 5651 on Internet Publishing is the legal basis of Web site bans in the Turkish Constitution. The laws Article 8 allows for blocking access to broadcasts for the following reasons: inciting violence, online sexual exploitation of children,
encouraging drug use, obscenity, prostitution, enabling means to gambling and crimes stated in Law No. 5816 regarding insulting Atatrk. The Telecommunications Authority can block Web sites with a court decision or at its own initiative.
On May 5, all access to the popular video-sharing web site YouTube was banned in Turkey. YouTube was banned in connection with a video that allegedly insulted Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, the founder of modern Turkey. The ban continues up until today
and is the longest ban of a web site in the history of Turkey.
YouTube is not the only popular web site under attack. It is only the highest-profile case. Sites such as Wordpress, Geocities, and Alibaba are also regularly banned. Indeed, it is clear that there is a frenzy of banning web sites at the moment. There
are about 900 courts able to ban web sites based on individual complaints, and it is possible to obtain a ban from multiple courts. This means the duration of the ban can be extended using another court. Also, the courts are under no obligation to inform
the web sites concerned before or after their decision. The web sites learn that they were banned after their users start complaining of lack of access. This adds to the delay in removing a ban.
After the internet sites youtube.com and dailymotion, the access to the site of kliptube.com is denied to the internet users in Turkey.
The latest victim is another video sharing site, kliptube.com. However, it is not possible to find out how, when and why the access to this site is banned by going to the site itself.
Those who visit the site are greeted by the sentence that The access to this site is barred by a court decision.
The internet site of gundemonline.com is also banned without any justification. Ankara’s 11th High Criminal Court banned gundemonline.com, a site about the Kurdish problem, on August 7 without any justification.
According to one of the site authorities, Ramazan Pekg๖z, their site has been closed by court orders four times so far. He says that nobody gives them any explanation about the situation. Since it is a very long process to remove this court order,
they simply continue their existence by changing names.
The Turkish blogosphere suffers from an ongoing ban on Wordpress….and periodic bans on YouTube, and on the social-networking widget site Slide, oh..and now on Dailymotion as well.
Turkish bloggers are protesting the constant banning of sites by voluntarily banning their own.
They are putting the following up on their website: Bu siteye erisim kendi karariyla engellenmistir which translates roughly into This site is blocked by [the author's] own choice .
Several Turkish media sites are covering the protests and providing links to forum groups and Facebook sites.
Techcrunch gives a history of the block as they have observed it: The problem has gotten so bad that Turkish blogs are now banning themselves in protest. The fake bans started with Firat Yildiz, who put this message up on his blog[...]Then another
Turkish blogger, Selim Yoruk, created this page with a piece of code that lets any blogger easily add the same message to his homepage. Nearly 200 Turkish blogs have (temporarily) shut themselves down in this manner. The point is to show Turkish Web
surfers what the Internet would look like if the censorship continues unabated.
It is too early to predict if the protest will have any effect.
Turkish ccess to YouTube banned in early May by a court decision for broadcasting videos deemed insulting to the nation's founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatrk, was reinstated on Saturday night.
It may take up to 72 hours for all Internet users to be able to access the Web site as Turkey's Internet service providers reconfigure their systems to reflect the court's decision.
An estimated 1.5 million people from within Turkey had been visiting YouTube every day despite the ban by using several proxy server Web sites. China and Pakistan continue to impose similar bans. YouTube has been banned in Turkey five times since March
Bans on YouTube and other Web sites were criticized and strongly protested in Turkey. A campaign, launched by elmaaltshift.com to draw attention to and protest the bans, lasted for three days, ending on Aug. 20. Web sites participating in the campaign
posted notices on their home pages reading Access to this Web site has been denied by the Web site's own decision, in imitation of what one sees upon trying to access a banned Web site.
Update: YouTube Blocked
30th August 2008
This is to confirm that YouTube is still blocked in Turkey as of 15:23 GMT on 27.08.2008. As I suspected local and worldwide news reports are wrong to report that a court order banning access to YouTube has been lifted. A dubious press release by the
Telecommunications Authority (only in Turkish) confirmed this today as well as an interview with the head of the Telecommunications Communication Agency (only in Turkish).
The atheist website RichardDawkins.net has been blocked in Turkey where viewers encounter a white screen saying: Access to this site has been denied by court order.
However there has been no official explanation of the ban. Suggestions for the ban include hacking and a comment that might have offended the litigation happy muslim creationist, Adnan Oktar, or Harun Yahya.
The block seems to be easily worked around using proxies or open DNS servers outside of Turkey.
A Turkish court has banned internet users from viewing the official Richard Dawkins website after a Muslim creationist claimed its contents were defamatory and blasphemous.
Adnan Oktar, who writes under the pen name of Harun Yahya, complained that Dawkins, a fierce critic of creationism and intelligent design, had insulted him in comments made on forums and blogs.
According to Oktar's office, Istanbul's second criminal court of peace banned the site earlier this month on the grounds that it "violated" Oktar's personality.
His press assistant, Seda Aral, said: We are not against freedom of speech or expression ...BUT... you cannot insult people. We found the comments hurtful. It was not a scientific discussion. There was a line and the limit has been
passed. We have used all the legal means to stop this site. We asked them to remove the comments but they did not.
Oktar, a household name in Turkey, has used hundreds of books, pamphlets and DVDs to contest Darwin's theory of evolution. In 2006 his publishers sent out 10,000 copies of the Atlas of Creation, a lavish book rejecting evolution on every one of
its 800 pages.
Dawkins, one of the recipients, described the book as preposterou ". On his website the British biologist and popular science writer said he was at a loss to reconcile the expensive and glossy production values of this book with the
breathtaking inanity of the content.
The head of Turkey's Telecommunications Board has stated that 1,112 Web sites have been banned in the country since November 2007 following complaints by individuals over content on these sites.
Speaking to the Anatolia news agency, Telecommunications Board President Tayfun Acarer said a center was established within the Postal and Telecommunications Directorate (PTT) on Nov. 23, 2007, allowing people to report Web sites on which they
have complaints. He said people also have the option to report their complaints by email or telephone.
This center has received a total of 24,598 complaints since its establishment last year. Following these complaints, 1,112 Web sites, 861 automatically and 251 with judicial decisions, were banned.
Acarer said: The duty of the state is to protect its citizens and warn them against harmful Internet content. He noted that Web site bans are necessary to prevent the public from falling victim to sites with criminal or ignoble intent.
According to Acarer, 12 Web sites were banned because of prostitution, 51 for insulting Atatrk, 79 for gambling, 415 for exploitation of children and 390 for obscenity.
Websites will continue to be banned as long as they post content inappropriate for Turkish families, a Turkish minister has said.
Practices are needed to protect young people and the public at large from harmful material online, the Turkish Daily News (TDN) quoted Transportation Minister Binali Yildirim as speaking at the international CeBit Information Technology
Law 5651 sees as appropriate the establishment of precautions against material that might hurt children, youth and families. If these precautions are not enough, then the law sees a Website ban as necessary, he said.
Turkey is listed together with Tunisia, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Turkmenistan, Iran and Vietnam, as the black listed countries that implement government censorship controls.
The purpose of the law was not to actually shut down Websites ...BUT... was to encourage the appropriate use of the Internet for the betterment of society, he added.
The website of Turkey's third largest-selling newspaper has been blocked after a complaint by an Islamic creationist.
Turkish internet users are now denied access to the Vatan newspaper's website, gazetevatan.com
, after a court decided it had insulted Adnan Oktar, a prolific nutter writer who disputes the theory of evolution. It is believed to be the first major newspaper site to be blocked. About 850 sites are already blocked.
Oktar, who last month successfully had the website of the British evolutionist Richard Dawkins blocked in Turkey, complained that he had been defamed in readers' comments to stories on the online edition of Vatan, a liberal publication.
His spokeswoman, Seda Aral, claimed the comments included obscenities and said the newspaper had ignored requests to remove them. We are trying to protect ourselves, she said: Vatan is always propagating against Mr Oktar and constantly
publishes allegations about him. When people read these they are provoked into using these insults against him.
Critics say Turkey's penal code makes it too easy to obtain blocking orders, although in practice prohibitions are often easily overcome through proxy servers.
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.
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.
The press 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.
Letter to the European Parliament on Turkey's banning of RichardDawkins.net by Sophie in 't Veld MEP:
I am writing to express my concern at reports of a Turkish court compromising freedom of expression in the context of Turkey's application to join the EU.
I would like you to investigate the specific example given below and attempt to see if it forms (as we fear) part of a wider picture of concern, and take the matter up with the Turkish authorities.
The example we cite relates to the blocking of the website of Professor Richard Dawkins, the world-famous evolutionary biologist. A criminal court in Istanbul reportedly banned the site in September 2008 on the grounds that it violated Adnan Oktar's personality after Professor Dawkins criticised Oktar creationist book
Atlas of Creation , which is being distributed in Europe in large numbers.
The basis of our complaint is the web/press reports shown in Appendix 1
, which were drawn to my attention by the UK's National Secular Society of which I am a Honorary Associate. I am also writing as the Chair of the EU Working Group for the Separation of Religion and Politics.
Such blockings are in stark contrast to the progress you have been calling for as one of the conditions for Turkey's succession to the EU. What is happening is worse than Turkish authorities not standing up for freedom of expression; it appears
that the state's mechanism itself is enforcing the restriction on freedom of expression.
Our concern about the banning does not rest in principle on Professor Dawkins' eminence; however the court's decision is all the more worrying, given it is difficult to think of anyone more qualified than him to speak on science matters, being the
Chair for the Public Understanding of Science at Oxford University.
We believe it essential that the EU remains committed to insisting that countries are not permitted to accede until they conform to fundamental rights. We admire your work in this area and note in
below a number of references you have made to requiring Turkey to improve freedom of expression, for the benefit of others who read this letter, which we regard as an open one.
I look forward to receiving confirmation that you intend to investigate the matter, and subsequently what action you intend to take, including making references to renewed concerns in your reports about the progress being made by candidate states
in the vital areas of fundamental rights.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 country.
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
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
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.
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.
Turkey has lifted its ban on YouTube, two years after it blocked access to the website because of videos deemed insulting to the
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.
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 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 the site.
But a court in Ankara ruled that Turkey's telecoms ministry should again block access, Bloomberg reported.
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.
The 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.
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.
That was 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.
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.
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 Twitter.
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.
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 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
Gay , naked, confession, high school student, breath and forbidden are some of the other banned words.
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
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.
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 .
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.
Dr. 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.
In 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.
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 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 February 2011.
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 amended them.
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
Bianet are still not happy and will launch another legal case ahead of the 22nd November implementation date
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.
According to 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.
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.
This 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Smaller 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
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 association.
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 courts.
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.
The 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.
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
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
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.
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
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 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
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.
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:
Jailing 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.
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 Constitutional Court.
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.
Turkey's ruling Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) will begin to monitor all media, including social media, to ensure it promotes traditional
family values and not individualism.
Hurriyet reports that a number of government agencies, including ministries of family and social policies, culture and tourism, youth and sports, national education and the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), Turkey's media censor, will
collaborate to censor all media. Measures will be taken to ensure that visual, aural and social media, news, tabloids, films and similar types of productions conform to our traditional family values, the AKP government noted in a statement.
The government claims the move is necessary as individualism has become one of many grave dangers facing traditional values in the country. It did not specify what constitutes family values, or note any specific examples of content
that would violate this measure.
Less than an hour after terrorist suicide attack on Istanbul's Ataturk Airport, Turkey's government resumed a tactic
frequently seen since last summer: a gag order for the country's media outlets. Less than an hour later, Twitter and Facebook were inaccessible inside the country.
The order, issued by the Turkish Prime Minister's office on the grounds of national security and public order, bans sharing of any visuals of the moment of explosion, blast scene, emergency work, of the wounded and dead, or any exaggerated
narrative about the scene. It also bans the act of sharing any information about the Islamic State suspects.
It was initially posted to the website of the Supreme Board of Radio and Television (known by its Turkish acronym, RTUK) at 11:15 pm Turkish time. Less than an hour later, an Istanbul court extended the ban to all news, interviews, and visuals
regarding the incident, and said it applied to any written and visual media, digital media outlets, or social media. Turkish internet service providers quickly blocked access to Facebook and Twitter. The court claimed that such news could
damage the criminal investigation, spread fear and panic, which may serve to the intentions of terrorist groups, and even may harm society as a whole.
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.
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 media accounts.
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 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.