Splash Page » Neil Gaiman On The ‘Obscenity’ Of Manga Collector Christopher Handley’s Trial: “Neil Gaiman On The ‘Obscenity’ Of Manga Collector Christopher Handley’s Trial
Published by Jennifer Vineyard on Monday, November 24, 2008 at 2:09 pm.
Neil GaimanLook through your comic book collection. Do you have Alan Moore’s ‘Lost Girls’? Any of S. Clay Wilson’s Underground Comix? Even Neil Gaiman’s ‘Sandman’ series? If the prosecution of manga collector Christopher Handley sticks, all of that and more could be considered obscene, Gaiman told MTV.
‘I wrote a story about a serial killer who kidnaps and rapes children, and then murders them,’ Gaiman said, referring to a storyline in ‘The Doll’s House.’ ‘We did that as a comic, not for the purposes of titillation or anything like that, but if you bought that comic, you could be arrested for it? That’s just deeply wrong. Nobody was hurt. The only thing that was hurt were ideas.’
Gaiman’s currently supporting the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund’s fight to defend Handley, who was arrested in Iowa for possession of obscene material based on his private collection, which included lolicon and yaoi manga. Lolicon focuses on the Lolita complex, where yaoi features male homosexual romance for a primarily female audience.
‘They found his manga, and found some objectionable panels,’ Gaiman said. ‘He’s been arrested for having some drawings of rude things in manga. I’m sorry, but if you went through my comic collection, you could arrest me if you’re going to start doing that. It’s just wrong.’
‘There is explicit sex in yaoi comics,’ Handley’s lawyer Eric Chase told MTV. ‘And the men are drawn in a very androgynous style, which has the effect of making them look really young. There’s a real taboo in Japan about showing pubic hair, so they’re all drawn without it, which also makes them look young. So what concerned the authorities were the depictions of children in explicit sexual situations that they believed to be obscene. But there are no actual children. It was all very crude images from a comic book.’
‘Do you remember there was a law passed prohibiting making things that simulated child pornography, even if the things actually weren’t?’ Gaiman asked, referring to part of the PROTECT Act (18 U.S.C. Section 1466A). (As in situations where an of-age female is in a pornographic situation, but ‘where she’s being presented as if she were 13.’) ‘They said, ‘For heaven’s sake, we’re not talking about art. We’re only talking about stuff where you’re leading people to believe they’re looking at real child porn,’’ said Gaiman.
Still, despite the argument that there was no actual children portrayed in the manga, Handley faces felony obsenity charges, including the receipt and possession of obscene visual representations of the sexual abuse of children. The case is going to trial on December 2. The jury will determine whether the manga is obscene or if it has artistic value. If found guilty of the charges against him, Handley faces a five-year mandatory minimum sentence.
‘He’d be punished as if it were actual child porn,’ his lawyer said. ‘And he did not look at child pornography.’
Gaiman’s been making appearances and giving the OK to Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab to make perfumes of his books to benefit the CBLDF to help them raise funds for Handley’s defense, as they did for comic book store owner Gordon Lee.
‘They’ve made in excess of $38,000 for the fund, which is pretty wonderful,’ Gaiman said, ‘and it’s real money that gets used for legal cases.’
Interesting case developing in the USA, and the prosecution involves child pornography in Manga format.
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund has signed on as a special consultant to the defense of Chistopher Handley, an Iowa collector who faces up to 20 years in prison for possession of manga. The Fund adds its First Amendment expertise to the case, managed by United Defense Group’s Eric Chase, and will also be providing monetary support towards obtaining expert witnesses.
Handley, 38, faces penalties under the PROTECT Act (18 U.S.C. Section 1466A) for allegedly possessing manga that the government claims to be obscene. The government alleges that the material includes drawings that they claim appear to be depictions of minors engaging in sexual conduct. No photographic content is at issue in Handley’s case.
‘Handley’s case is deeply troubling, because the government is prosecuting a private collector for possession of art,’ says CBLDF Executive Director Charles Brownstein. ‘In the past, CBLDF has had to defend the First Amendment rights of retailers and artists, but never before have we experienced the Federal Government attempting to strip a citizen of his freedom because he owned comic books. We will bring our best resources to bear in aiding Mr. Handley’s counsel as they defend his freedom and the First Amendment rights of every art-loving citizen in this country.’
Mr. Handley’s case began in May 2006 when he received an express mail package from Japan that contained seven Japanese comic books. That package was intercepted by the Postal Inspector, who applied for a search warrant after determining that the package contained cartoon images of objectionable content. Unaware that his materials were searched, Handley drove away from the post office and was followed by various law enforcement officers, who pulled him over and followed him to his home. Once there, agents from the Postal Inspector’s office, Immigration and Customs Enforcement Agency, Special Agents from the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation, and officers from the Glenwood Police Department seized Handley’s collection of over 1,200 manga books or publications; and hundreds of DVDs, VHS tapes, laser disks; seven computers, and other documents. Though Handley’s collection was comprised of hundreds of comics covering a wide spectrum of manga, the government is prosecuting images appearing in a small handful.
Putting the case into context, Burton Joseph, CBLDF’s Legal Counsel says, ‘In the lengthy time in which I have represented CBLDF and its clients, I have never encountered a situation where criminal prosecution was brought against a private consumer for possession of material for personal use in his own home. This prosecution has profound implications in limiting the First Amendment for art and artists, and comics in particular, that are on the cutting edge of creativity. It misunderstands the nature of avant-garde art in its historical perspective and is a perversion of anti-obscenity laws.’
Eric Chase and his team at the United Defense Group have been vigorously defending Handley, and scored a major First Amendment victory earlier this year when the judge found portions of the PROTECT Act unconstitutional in his ruling on a motion to dismiss. District Judge Gritzner of the Southern District of Iowa found that subsections 1466(a)(2) and (b)(2) of 18 U.S.C. 1466A unconstitutional. Those sections make it a crime to knowingly produce, distribute, receive, or possess with intent to distribute, ‘a visual depiction of any kind, including a drawing, cartoon, sculpture, or painting,’ that ‘is, or appears to be’ a minor engaged in sexual conduct. Judge Gritzner found that those sections restrict protected speech and are constitutionally infirm.
Handley now faces charges under the surviving sections of 1466A, which will require a jury to determine whether the drawings at issue are legally obscene. The material cannot be deemed obscene unless it meets all three of the criteria of the Miller test for obscenity: ‘(a) whether the average person, applying contemporary community standards would find that the work, taken as a whole, appeals to the prurient interest; (b) whether the work depicts or describes, in a patently offensive way, sexual conduct specifically defined by the applicable state law; and (c) whether the work, taken as a whole, lacks serious literary, artistic, political, or scientific value.’ The jury must answer all three questions in the affirmative in order to convict.
Eric Chase recognized the importance of the case, and of the CBLDF’s contribution to it, in a statement to the CBLDF: ‘This case represents the latest in a string of efforts by the Department of Justice to encroach on free speech. The United Defense Group is committed to fighting to maintain the protections guaranteed in the Constitution, and we appreciate the CBLDF’s support in this fight.’
About the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund
The Comic Book Legal Defense Fund was founded in 1986 as a 501 (c) 3 non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation of First Amendment rights for members of the comics community. They have defended dozens of Free Expression cases in courts across the United States, and led important education initiatives promoting comics literacy and free expression. For additional information, donations, and other inquiries call 800-99-CBLDF or visit http://www.cbldf.org or http://www.myspace.com/cbldf.
Google’s Gatekeepers: “(New York Times)
An article by Jeffery Rosen about Google’s and YouTube’s relationship with national censorship laws. Over the past couple of years, Google and its various applications have been blocked, to different degrees, by 24 countries.”
Published: November 28, 2008
In 2006, Thailand announced it was blocking access to YouTube for anyone with a Thai I.P address, and then identified 20 offensive videos for Google to remove as a condition of unblocking the site.
Post from: TorrentFreak
A week ago today, customers of the ISP Orange across the UK and France found that they could no longer access The Pirate Bay. Many of them fired off emails to the service provider, worried that Orange was censoring their access to the Internet. Now, a week later, Orange have answered officially – its customers should have no further difficulty accessing the world’s largest tracker.
When reports from last Friday started to escalate over the weekend, BitTorrent users with the ISP Orange grew more and more concerned. Out of nowhere it appeared that The Pirate Bay was off limits and they could no longer access the site.
Reports coming in from France told the same story – no Pirate Bay and no helpful explanation from Orange, despite many complaints. Many believed that Orange had taken the decision to block the Swedish tracker and they began voicing displeasure.
TorrentFreak picked up the story on Monday, contacting Orange PR for an explanation. After a reminder on Tuesday, we published the response from Orange who said: ‘Our understanding is that Orange doesn’t block access to any sites other than those identified by the Internet Watch Foundation, that relate to illegal child abuse imagery. However, we’re looking into this and will update you again as soon as we can.’
File-sharers live in uncertain times and when organizations such as the IFPI actively take steps to force ISPs to censor the Internet, it’s little wonder that people come to the conclusions they do. So we asked Orange customers to tell us directly if they could access The Pirate Bay or not. An overwhelming majority said they couldn’t, but a few explained that they could, which cast some doubt on the ISP-wide block theory. However, with nothing official coming back from Orange, lingering suspicions remained.
Finally today, an Orange spokesperson responded officially, thanking TorrentFreak for bringing the matter to their attention and offering the following message:
We can confirm that we have not actively stopped customers accessing the web sites reportedly affected. However, following investigation by our network partners, a small section of our Internet traffic was rerouted by one of them which has now restored access to the sites concerned.
As has always been the case, it is Orange UK’s policy to not block customer access to websites, other than to those containing images of child abuse as identified by the IWF.
So there it is in black and white – Orange customers can officially access The Pirate Bay again. As the proof of the pudding is in the eating, we encourage feedback in the comments – are you an Orange customer and has the site returned for you?
Post from: TorrentFreak
After Atari received some bad press recently for mistakenly accusing an elderly couple of pirating one of its games, the company has now stopped the anti-piracy campaign in question. The ‘witch-hunt’, carried out by the UK law firm Davenport Lyons on behalf of Atari, based on spreadsheets full of IPs gathered by a company named Logistep, continues to lose credibility.
For regular readers of TorrentFreak, Davenport Lyons and Logistep are familiar names. For more than a year now we have reported on their missteps, threatening tactics, and especially their reluctance to have their evidence challenged in court.
Recently their efforts to make money from alleged pirates was picked up by the mainstream press, because an elderly couple was incorrectly accused by them of pirating an Atari game, Test Drive Unlimited. It is of course a stereotype to think that people over fifty don’t play games, but with the help of consumer magazine, Which? Computing, the lawyers were forced to drop the case.
If anything, this suggests that the evidence they gather for use against alleged sharers is not as strong as it should be. In fact, this is not the first time that a case has dropped before it went to court. Apparently, the lawyers that represent the various copyright holders will only make their case when they have a sure win – that is, when the defendants fail to show up. Others who dig in their heels and refuse to pay learn that the consequences aren’t nearly as bad as the law firm would have everyone believe.
Meanwhile, thousands of UK citizens are receiving letters in which they are accused of downloading music, games or more recently, adult entertainment. In these letters, they are asked to pay a few hundred pounds, or else they are threatened with the prospect of being dragged through court, where the fine – if the law firm is to be believed – will be multiplied several times over.
There aren’t any precise figure on how many alleged pirates have paid up, but based on earlier comments from the law firm itself, it’s believed to be between 40 and 60%. It’s not unthinkable that some copyright owners are making more from this type of pirate-chasing than they do from sales of their actual products. Quite an innovative business model actually, especially since in many cases it guarantees a revenue stream for sub-standard products that otherwise simply wouldn’t sell.
But now, according to The Register, computer game manufacturer Atari has had enough, as they have canceled their collaboration with Davenport Lyons and Logistep. Exactly why is open to speculation, but it is difficult to find a single positive article about the activities of these companies, particularly when recent and rather more potentially embarrassing actions are taken into consideration. It’s not surprising that they choose to distance themselves from the operation.
In a comment to El Reg, Atari said that it will ‘always retain and reserve the right to protect our intellectual property from illegal copying and piracy.’ An interesting comment, since cashing in on alleged piracy happens after the offense, and has nothing to do with protection. However, this statement seems more of an attempt to show that this withdrawal doesn’t indicate that Atari is going soft on piracy.
Of course, copyright holders have every right to protect their material, or even make up for the losses they claim to suffer. Whether it is the right thing to do is questionable though, especially when the tactics are as aggressive as they are in these cases.
The complete lack of transparency in respect of the evidence gathering techniques just makes matters worse, and every negative aspect is compounded when people like Simon Davies of Privacy International speak about facets of the operation in very unfavorable terms. ‘This is appalling, it breaches a number of fundamental human rights,’ he said. ‘They risk bringing the law into disrepute – just because lawyers can do something it doesn’t mean that they should.’
A great example of where copyright has gone wrong has emerged recently. In a leaked contract between DigiProtect (copyright protection outfit) and Evil Angel (content producer), the copyright was actually transferred in order for DigiProtect to make it available on filesharing networks.
‘LICENSOR grants DIGIPROTECT the exclusive right to make the movies listed in Appendix 1 worldwide available to the public via remote computer networks, so-called peer-2-peer and internet file sharing networks such as e-Donkey, Kazaa, Bitorrent, etc. for the duration of this agreement.’
So, DigiProtect makes the files available to cash in on the people who attempt to download the files, but not to protect their intellectual property in a way copyright law was put in place for. In fact, this has nothing to do with copyright protection, they are simply exploiting the system. Probably a good thing that Atari got out before it all falls apart.
The question now is how are the other publishers feeling now that Atari has had enough? Since they are based in the UK, the focus now falls on CodeMasters, who are still pursuing people over Colin McRae Dirt, but does the return on the project cancel out the mountains of bad PR it generates? Time will tell.
As mentioned in an earlier article the extreme pornography provisions will come into force on 26 January, 2009.
There is not much “clear” guidance to be honest on the Ministry of Justice document only provides a concise summary of what the legislation itself says. There is some “guidance though” and here is a summary of the more interesting stuff from the Guidelines.
(1) With regards to deleting images, the Ministry of Justice Guidelines state that “case law supports the view that, in normal circumstances, deleting images held on a computer is sufficient to get rid of them, i.e. to divest oneself of possession of them. An exception would be where a person is shown to have intended to remain in control of an image even though he has deleted it – that will entail him having the capacity (through skill or software) to retrieve the image. Porter  _ WLR 2633.”
I did refer to this issue back in May 2008 and wrote that “possession of digital content is also problematic from a technical point, and simply deleting dangerous images may not be enough to avoid prosecution. A recent Court of Appeal decision with regards to deleted images involving child pornography (R v Porter  EWCA Crim 560) established that it may not be so easy to get rid of images from one’s computer.
Following the decision of the Court of Appeal, in the scenario of Joe knowingly downloading child pornography (or for that matter extreme pornography) but deciding to delete them with no intention to undelete or recover them, Joe would expect to avoid possession and could have a defence, if the images were in deleted state and unrecoverable by Joe at the alleged time of possession and Joe does not have in his possession software which is capable of recovering deleted images or there is no evidence to suggest that Joe tried to recover the deleted images by such software.
Following Porter, it would be a matter for the jury to decide whether the deleted images were within the control of Joe having regard to all the factors in the case, including his knowledge and particular circumstances and the available evidence.” Porter was reinforced in another recent Court of Appeal decision in R v. Rowe  EWCA Crim 2712. At trial, experts agreed that Rowe would have needed specialist software to access the deleted files, which he did not appear to have. It was not possible for them to prove whether the deleted files had actually been viewed. The last time that the non-deleted files had been accessed was years before the date on the indictment.
(2) In terms of Accidental Access, the Ministry of Justice Guidelines state that “the offence is not targeted at those who accidentally stumble across extreme pornographic images while surfing the Net. As with the position regarding deleted images the key issue will be whether the person knowingly has control or custody and therefore possession of the image in question and does not keep it for an unreasonable length of time.”
In my view, this will depend upon the nature of “accidental access” and whether there was any intention to “keep the images somehow” after the “accidental access”. There are software, which, for example, can recover images from the cache files of popular Internet browsers.
(3) In terms of the “Sex Offenders’ Register” issue the Ministry of Justice Guidelines state that “there are very limited circumstances in which people convicted of the new offence would be made subject to notification requirements under part 2 of the Sexual Offences Act 2003. Offenders must be aged _8 or above and receive a sentence of two years’ imprisonment or more. This is the maximum sentence available in respect of possession of bestiality and necrophilia images and towards the top of the scale for the other categories of material.
Judges would be aware that a certain sentence length would trigger notification requirements and a sentence of two years or more would reflect the concerns of the court about particular aspects of a case, such as the amount and severity of the material or the number of previous convictions.”
With regards to the sentencing issues it is worth reading what I wrote back in May 2008 Extreme Pornography: Sentencing Issues as this piece discusses the Court of Appeal’s approach to sentencing in possession of child pornography prosecutions. A similar approach is expected to be adopted for the crime of possession of extreme pornographic images.
(4) The Ministry of Justice also encourages users who come across extreme pornographic images on the Internet to report them to the government’s favourite watchdog, the Internet Watch Foundation. I do NOT, however, agree that the IWF can determine whether the images are potentially in breach of UK legislation.
Based on due process principles, it should be up to the courts of law to decide on matters of illegality and an “administrative private body” should not be making judgments on illegality especially where there are serious concerns for “freedom of expression”.
(5) Finally, in the FAQ section, the Ministry of Justice tries to answer the question of How can I get rid of material if I think it is illegal? The response given is If the material is on a computer, you should delete it. If it is in another form, such as paper, video or DVD, you should destroy it and dispose of it responsibly.
I would still recommend reading the full Ministry of Justice Guidelines document which is provided in a PDF file.
[Blog entry by Yaman Akdeniz]
The Ministry of Justice has just published (see below for the details) an 8 page Guidelines on the new offence of possession of extreme pornographic images.
26 November 2008
The Criminal Justice and immigration Act 2008 introduces a new offence, in England, Wales and Northern Ireland of the possession of extreme pornographic images.
This document provides general information for members of public on the new offence of possession of extreme pornographic images in Part 5, Sections 63 to 67 of the Criminal Justice and Immigration Act 2008. These sections are due to come into force on 26th January 2009 in England, Wales and Northern Ireland.
As well as providing information about the offence, this document is intended to answer some of the more frequently asked questions about the offence. It should be read in conjunction with the Explanatory Notes on the Act published on the Office of the Public Sector Information (OPSI) website.
See further The Register article by John Ozimek entitled “UK.gov says exteme porn isn’t illegal if you delete it…unless you know how to recover a hard drive,” 28 November, 2008.
Danish ISP Sonofon (part of Tele2) has once again been ordered by a Danish court to block the controversial Swedish BitTorrent site The Pirate Bay. The record industry represented by The International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) calls it a landmark ruling and says the decision confirms the illegality of Pirate Bay.…
(Via The Register – Public Sector.)
30 November 2008, Sunday, AYŞE KARABAT, ANKARA
Internet restrictions are against European Union norms and Turkey could face charges at the European Courts for violating the freedom of expression, experts warn.
Internet restrictions are against European Union norms and Turkey could face charges at the European Courts of Human Rights for violating the freedom of expression, according to Kerem Altıparmak and Yaman Akdeniz, authors of the book ‘Restricted Access,’ which assesses Internet content regulation and censorship in Turkey by providing an overview of the current legislation from a critical perspective.
Altıparmak, an assistant professor responsible for a number of projects carried out by Ankara University’s Human Rights Center, claims Law No. 5651, which regulates publications on the Internet, is worse than the infamous Article 301 of the Turkish Penal Code (TCK).
Article 301 previously forbid ‘insulting Turkishness,’ and has now been slightly modified to instead criminalize ‘insulting the Turkish nation.’ It is this article under which novelist Orhan Pamuk and many other writers and journalists have been prosecuted. Recent reforms also reduced the maximum sentence under Article 301 to two years and introduced the requirement that cases over violations of the law must be authorized by the Justice Ministry but, for many human rights activists, its existence remains an injustice. The other co-author, Akdeniz, is a senior lecturer at the School of Law at the University of Leeds and founder of the UK-based Cyber-Rights.org.
Akdeniz and Altıparmak argue that Turkey’s current Internet regulations are not only procedurally flawed and designed to censor and silence political speech, but also contradict the right to privacy and fair trial. Their book, published with help from the Human Rights Joint Platform (İHOP) and available in English at http://privacy.cyber-rights.org.tr, assesses how the current regulatory systems work and how Web sites, predominantly situated outside Turkish jurisdiction, are blocked by court and administrative orders by giving examples. The book also analyzes blocking orders that fall outside the scope of the new legislation.
The authors point out that over 1,000 Web sites are currently blocked in Turkey through court decisions and administrative blocking orders. The majority of these are associated with the problematic Law No. 5651.
‘Clearly the current regime, through its procedural and substantive deficiencies, is designed to censor and silence speech. Its impacts are wide, affecting not only the freedom of speech but also the right to privacy and fair trial. It has been reported that prosecutors have even demanded that politicians widen the scope of the law to include insults, defamation and terrorism. This antiquated approach remains unacceptable in a democratic society,’ they write.
Akdeniz and Altıparmak suggest that, as a result of cultural, historical and socio-political diversity, there will inevitably be divergent approaches to the growth and governance of the Internet in different European societies. For example, while the German and French governments have political fears and sensitivities about the use of the Internet by Neo-Nazis, the United Kingdom takes a more relaxed attitude to the dangers of racism but, conversely, has a long cultural tradition of suppression of sexually explicit material.
‘On the other hand, the Turkish government may be more concerned about defamatory statements made in relation to state officials and politicians, other values related to the state and the dissemination of racist and terrorist propaganda. No doubt, those concerns must not lead to the violation of international standards for the protection of freedom of expression in democratic societies,’ the book argues. It also analyzes the legal responsibilities of various actors, including content providers, hosting companies, Internet service providers (ISPs) and Internet cafes. The book contains an overview of international developments with regard to Internet content regulation at the level of the European Union and the Council of Europe.
Akdeniz and Altıparmak argue that Law No. 5651 was rushed through Parliament just before the Parliament was dissolved for the 2007 general elections and that it had not received broad public support before or after its enactment. Universities and experts, including bar associations, were not consulted about the bill, either.
The authors point out that Web sites can only be blocked if they commit crimes listed under Article 8 of Law No. 5651: encouraging suicide, sexual exploitation of minors, encouraging drug use, supplying harmful substances, obscenity, providing a forum for gambling and prostitution. Web sites may also be banned under other laws, such as the Law on Intellectual and Artistic Works. After examining the many instances of Web site bans over the past year, Altıparmak and Akdeniz suggest that many of the blocking orders that have been issued are actually against the law.
‘It is unlawful for the courts, judges and public prosecutors to issue blocking orders and precautionary injunctions outside the scope of these two provisions. Based on this view, blocking orders issued outside the scope of these provisions should be lifted by the courts that issued the orders in the first place,’ they claim.
Aside from the issue of the law itself, blocking Web sites is simply an inadequate method for combating illegal content, the authors argue. ‘Blocking as a preventative policy measure has been explicitly dismissed within the context of terrorist use of the Internet at the level of the European Union. Furthermore, circumvention technologies are widely available, and the filtering and blocking mechanisms and methods currently used in Turkey are easy to circumvent even for inexperienced Internet users. The futility of the current blocking measures is evidenced by the fact that YouTube.com was the 16th most accessed site in Turkey according to the alexa.com Web site on Aug. 18, 2008, almost three months after the latest blocking order was issued,’ the writers point out.
Bans damage democracy
They note that all of Turkey’s site bans use the same technology. ‘The blocking orders for them not only result in the blocking of access to the allegedly illegal content, usually a single file or page, but they also result in the blocking of millions of legitimate pages, files and content under the single domain that these systems operate. Therefore, Law No. 5651 and its implementation do not meet necessity and proportionality tests envisaged under the Constitution and developed by the European Court of Human Rights. No alternative options for content regulation were considered by the legislators while drafting Law No. 5651,’ the writers indicate.
The authors point out that political speech has been strongly affected by the implementation of Law No. 5651. In addition to a number of opposition news Web sites, blocking useful communication sites such as Geocities, YouTube and WordPress has shut off access to alternative views. ‘More importantly, since the banning reasons of political Web sites are not known, we reach the conclusion that the blocking orders are often politically motivated to silence speech on the Internet,’ they argue.
Akdeniz and Altıparmak note that the law was initially designed to protect children from illegal and harmful Internet content. However, the current policy does not even come close to achieving the government’s goal of protecting children.
‘We believe that Law No. 5651 should be abolished. The government should instead commission a major public inquiry to develop a new policy which is truly designed to protect children from harmful Internet content while respecting freedom of speech and the rights of Turkish adults to access and consume any type of Internet content. No doubt, the new initiative should be carried out in a transparent, open, and pluralist way,’ the authors suggest.
Altıparmak and Akdeniz also write that training and detailed guidelines for judges and public prosecutors are necessary to avoid some of the problems caused by the current legal provisions. They note that the transparency and openness of court decisions are very important. They write that when a Web site is blocked the only thing that the users see on the page is a short notice saying, ‘Access to this page was blocked by a court decision.’
The authors conclude: ‘Without a doubt, court issued blocking decisions and the reasons for the decisions should be made public so that the public as well as the content and Web site operators are better informed about the blocking decisions. Such decisions can then be disputed or challenged if necessary. Otherwise, in the absence of transparency, we are required to become like the three wise monkeys and abide by the proverbial principle to see no evil, hear no evil and speak no evil and trust the government and its administrative organs with regards to what is suitable for us to view, read and access on the Internet.’