OSCE media freedom representative asks Turkey to withdraw recent Internet blocking provisions, calls for urgent reform of law

OSCE Press release – OSCE media freedom representative asks Turkey to withdraw recent Internet blocking provisions, calls for urgent reform of law

OSCE media freedom representative asks Turkey to withdraw recent Internet blocking provisions, calls for urgent reform of law

VIENNA, 22 June 2010 – Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media, today 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.

The alleged reason behind the block is an unsettled tax dispute between the Ministry of Transport and Communication and Google, the owner of YouTube. ‘But even the widely criticized Internet Law does not include tax disputes among the reasons that it cites as cause for blocking websites,’ the Representative said.

‘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 legal review of Law No. 5651, commissioned by the OSCE in January 2010, can be downloaded here: http://www.osce.org/item/42294.html

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