Late last week the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the controversial ‘Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act,’ or ‘PROTECT IP Act as it’s known, giving the Department of Justice and copyright holders greatly expanded powers in the battle against online infringement.‘Today the Judiciary Committee took an important step in protecting online intellectual property rights,’ said Senator Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) afterwards. ‘The Internet is not a lawless free-for-all where anything goes. The Constitution protects both property and speech, both online and off.’First proposed earlier this month, the PROTECT IP Act would give the Attorney General the power to force US based third-parties, including ISPs, payment processors, online advertising network providers, and search engines to either block access to an infringing site or cease doing business with it.Copyright holders would be able to target payment processors and online advertising network providers.‘Increased online theft of intellectual property has become a rampant problem,’ added Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa). ‘The impact of copyright piracy and sale of counterfeit goods imposes a huge cost on the American economy – lost jobs, lost sales, and lost income. This bill will help to protect against harmful counterfeit and pirated products that cause damage to both the economy and the health and safety of the consumer.’Copyright holder groups like the MPAA and RIAA are obviously pleased with the news.‘It’s essential that we reign in online thieves and business models predicated on ripping off America’s songwriters, musicians and performers,’ said Mitch Bainwol, RIAA Chairman. ‘A review of the most frequently visited web sites – including those specializing in pre-release songs that are not yet even available in the legitimate marketplace — feature banner ads for some of America’s best known companies.The MPAA also welcomed passage of thge PROTECT IP Act.’The Judiciary Committee took an important step today to stop theft and save jobs,’ said Michael O’Leary, Executive Vice President, Government Affairs of the MPAA. ‘By helping shut down rogue websites that profit from stolen films, television shows, and other counterfeit goods, this legislation will protect wages and benefits for the millions of middle class workers who bring America’s creativity to life.’Critics, however abound.The Electronic Frontier Foundation has reminded people of the fact that it could have serious domain name system (DNS) implications.It writes:
When COICA was introduced in the Senate last fall, EFF wrote about its dangerous implications for the Internet’s domain name system (DNS). These remain true for PIPA, despite the removal of a provision that would have required registrars and registries to block domain names pointing to sites ‘dedicated to infringing activities.’ Because blocking via registries and registrars underlies Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s ongoing practice of seizing domain names, taking this device out of PIPA is small gain. The bill will still require targeted DNS server operators like ISPs to prevent an identified domain name from resolving to the domain’s IP address, thereby preventing their users from accessing those sites. As a result, the warnings that we and others gave last year about serious security vulnerabilities and a fractured Internet are unchanged.
Public Knowledge said it was ‘disappointed’ with the news.‘We are disappointed that the Senate Judiciary Committee today approved legislation (S. 968) that will threaten the security and global functioning of the Internet, and opens the door to nuisance lawsuits while doing little if anything to curb the issues of international source of illegal downloads the bill seeks to address,’ said Sherwin Siy, the group’s deputy legal director. oThat’s the real problem. Internet users will still be able to bypass any proposed search engine filter or ISP-level site blocking, and foreign infringing sites will still be accessible.The PROTECT IP Act talks about ‘safeguards’ like allowing domain name operators or site owners to petition the court to have the orders vacated, but it still occurs after the fact and the damage done.”
Saudi Gazette – Govt blocks 3,000 drug websites: “Govt blocks 3,000 drug websites
DAMMAM: The government’s Drug Combat Department has blocked over 3,000 international Internet websites for being involved in enticing young people to take drugs and showing them ways to market these poisons. Abdel Ilah Al-Shareef, Assistant Director of the Drug Combat Department for Preventive Affairs, said three incidents have been detected connected to drug trafficking via the Internet. He added that three websites have been constructed to inform surfers about preventive measures. Al-Shareef warned that some websites set up for chatting, electronic games and cartoon serials exploit adolescents and urge them to take forbidden substances. This move was announced after a meeting on the danger of drugs was held at the Education Theater in Hafr Al-Batin. — Okaz/Saudi Gazette __ “
On 25 May, the Internet Committee organizes a meeting with non-governmental organizations, public representatives and experts to discuss the much disputed internet filter system. The application is going to be enforced on 22 August.
Ekin KARACA – firstname.lastname@example.org
Istanbul – BİA News Center
25 May 2011, Wednesday
The Prime Ministry Telecommunication Association (BTK) invited non-governmental organizations, public representatives and experts to a meeting to discuss the controversial internet filter. The much disputed internet filter application is anticipated to be enforced on 22 August.
The meeting is organized by the Internet Committee and takes place at the campus of Bilgi University in Istanbul today (25 May). The method and the basics of the decision taken by the BTK will be discussed as well as the contents of the package. A report including all opinions will be forwarded to the participants subsequently.
‘A meeting with delay’
Assoc. Prof. Yaman Akdeniz, lecturer at the Bilgi University Faculty of Law, is going to attend the meeting as well. He criticized that this kind of summit should have been held before 22 February, i.e. before the BTK took its final decision.
‘This meeting comes very late. Yet, it is still important to hear the opinions of the participants’.
‘When the invitation reached me, I realized that there were only very few participants who are against the filer application. Thereupon, I send a list of 22 names to the Internet Committee. Serhat Özeren as Head of the Committee accepted my request. I think today’s discussion will be more fruitful that way’.
‘I think the filter decision will be cancelled’
‘In my opinion, the filter decision taken by the BTK will be cancelled. All these [applications] are indicators for ’stepping backwards’. Besides, the trial opened by bianet is pending at the Council of State; the legal struggle is being continued’.
‘Postponing the decision is not satisfactory. We will only achieve the result we want if the BTK cancelled this decision and takes a new one. The meeting is important in this aspect’, Akdeniz indicated.
‘If the BTK does not annul this decision, the Council of State will stop the execution in my opinion. The cancellation of the decision would follow accordingly’.
‘Final decision only after elections’
‘The BTK has to submit its defence to the Council of State until coming Monday (30 May) in the scope of the case before the Council of State to stop the enforcement. I do when the Council of State will take a decision after that. Yet, I think this will be left till after the elections’, Akdeniz emphasized.
‘From my point of view, one reason for his hastily organized meeting is to narrow the period of time at the Council of State. The BTK will either defend their decision in writing or they will cancel it and the Council of State will say that they drop procedures’.
‘I think that the social criticism from within the public and the trial at the Council of State have their affects on the steps backwards’.
‘Our protest continues’
‘Considering the worst case scenario, the meeting would have no positive outcome and the Council of State would give a negative reply. In that case, this issue will go as far as to the European Court of Human Rights’.
‘Should the Council of State decide in our favour, we would go to celebrate in the streets. If not, our protest is going to continue. Enforcing this application that is not being supported by the society is very bad. Besides, everyone can install his or her own filter system on the computer. There is no social obligation that requires anybody to do so’. (EKN/VK)
“There is no Internet Censorship; however one-million websites are banned”
By Serhat Ayhan, Milliyet – 23. 05.11
Original article in Turkish, translated below:
In order to make the internet a safer place, the authorities have introduced a ‘catalogue of crimes’, the websites that this filtering shall apply to will be monitored by the TIB. In the scope of Law 5651, TIB has the authority to block all websites that relate to prostitution, child pornography, gambling, and promoting suicide. Furthermore, the TIB has already 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.
There are also cases where, instead of blocking an entire website, certain sections of web-pages have been censored, i.e. some people’s Facebook profiles, image galleries of some online newspapers… Moreover, in accordance with the established law, same-sex associations and websites (without any explicit content) have also been blocked. Also sections in other languages have been blocked i.e. the Wikipedia link on “Kurdish people” among others is currently blocked.
The decision of February 22, by the BTK, has led to much concern in Turkey, leading to protests in many cities across the nation. Following this, it was also discovered that words such as ‘Haydar’, ‘Hikaye’ (story), and ‘Etek’ (skirt) were to be banned within domain names, and that Eksi Sozluk (very popular website in Turkey, see link for description: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ek%C5%9Fi_S%C3%B6zl%C3%BCk) is also to be banned. Authorities have stated that these decisions are a result of incorrect readings and interpretations; former Transport Minister Binali Yildirim pointed out that he would personally stand in the way of (self-)censorship.
Dr. Yaman Akdeniz: TIB abused its authority
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”.
Attorney Gokhan Ahi: Will we be able to trust BTK on August 22?
Internet cafes are one of the most popular sources for accessing the net in the country, and preventing access to more than one-million websites is a clear indication of censorship in Turkey’s internet cafes. “According to the law, internet filters have to be used by all internet cafes”. TIB decides on the filtered websites and adds them to a central database. We have discovered that there are many commercial (business) and political sites that can also not be accessed at the internet cafes. This is nothing more than de facto censorship. How can we be sure that the filtering programme to be introduced on August 22 will not be the same? This internet café filtering gives us an important insight into the filtering that will take place after August 22. Maybe by that time another one-million websites will get caught in the filter. I wonder if there are still people who will dare to point the finger at the protestors of filtering and censorship and call them “pornocu” (perverts).
Who has been caught by the filter?
Ten.com.tr: Swimwear promotion website
Gazikent.com.tr: car sales website
Kelebeknakliyat.com.tr: house to house transportation service website
Klas.com.tr: Klas FM radio website
Gayesokmen.com.tr: Modelling agency
Leylainanir.com.tr: Promotional site for beauty products
Estem.com.tr: Polyclinic website
Utopiaworld.com.tr: Hotel website
Eforbranda.com.tr: Tent and tarpaulin products, promotional site
Panama.com.tr: Textiles website
Yararmesrubat.com.tr: Beverages sales website
urfalilar.org.tr: ‘Şanlı Urfalılar’ (people from Urfa, city in South-Eastern Turkey) Association’s website
acmd.org.tr: ‘Ankara ÇokSesli’ music association website
kaosgl.com: Kaos GL LGBT News portal
lambdaistanbul.org: Lambda İstanbul (LGBT rights group) association website
Reason for banning the word ‘Haydar’
The word Haydar was discovered on the list of words to be banned from the internet in internet cafes. The word ‘Gaydar’ in English is a slang term used for ‘gay people tryiong to find a partner’. It is suspected that the reason for the ban is that the letters ‘G’ and ‘H’ are very close to each other on the keyboard.
Adrianne has been exposed
The word is assumed to be banned because of a popular female model aged 29 called Adrianne Curry. She has 212.000 followers on Twitter, and the pictures she has online could be qualified as obscene according to the Turkish Criminal Code art. 226 on ‘obscenity’.
10 May, 2011
The Federal Government tonight announced that it would not proceed with a funding program which has seen Australian internet service providers provided with grants to offer internet filtering options to customers; citing a lack of interest in the project.
The initiative – dubbed the Voluntary Internet Filtering Grants Program – was established in last year’s budget as part of Labor’s over-arching internet filtering policy, which is also seeing the Government push ahead with plans to mandatorily filter Australia’s internet at the ISP level. However, in budget papers released tonight, the Government revealed the project had proven less than popular – with just $200,000 of available funds of $9.8 million being used in the past 12 months.
‘The Government provided $9.8 million in the 2010‑11 Budget to establish the Voluntary Internet Filtering Grants Program to assist internet service providers (ISPs) to offer customers internet filtering options on a commercial basis,’ the papers state.
‘However, consultation with industry has identified limited interest in the grants due to the increasing range of filtering technologies readily available to online users, including browser and search engine filters, and the decision of the three largest ISPs, which account for over 70 per cent of Australian internet users, to voluntarily filter child abuse sites using a list compiled and maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.’
Several ISPs have offered voluntarily filter broadband connections for some time to Australians, as well as access to internet filtering software which can be installed on users’ PCs. It is not clear to what extent the PC software has been taken up, but the ISP-based offering is known to have seen poor adoption.
Facing strong opposition from the Coalition, the Greens and the general public, Communications Minister Stephen Conroy last year postponed the wider internet filter legislation while a review of the Refused Classification category of content (which the filter is intended to block) was carried out by the Minister for Home Affairs for the consideration of federal and state Attorneys-General.
In October, an official from Conroy’s Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy acknowledged the department was not actively working on the filter project at that time, pending the review, although it was working with the three major ISPs – Telstra, Optus and Primus, which have agreed to voluntarily implement more a limited filter to block child pornography from reachng their consumers, rather than the full Refused Classification category of content.
That more limited voluntary filtering scheme involving Telstra, Optus and Primus, however, is due to kick off in the middle of this year. It is not clear what stage the there ISPs are at with respect to implementing the filtering technology.
Eric Schmidt claims search giant would fight attempts to restrict access to sites such as the Pirate Bay
* Josh Halliday
* guardian.co.uk, Wednesday 18 May 2011 16.24 BST
* Article history
Eric Schmidt described website blocking as similar to China’s restrictive internet regime. Photograph: Graham Turner for the Guardian
Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt, warned on Wednesday that government plans to block access to illicit filesharing websites could set a ‘disastrous precedent’ for freedom of speech.
Speaking to journalists after his keynote speech at Google’s Big Tent conference in London, Schmidt said the online search giant would challenge attempts to restrict access to the Pirate Bay and other so-called ‘cyberlocker’ sites that encourage illegal downloading – part of government plans to fight online piracy through controversial measures included the Digital Economy Act.
‘If there is a law that requires DNSs [domain name systems, the protocol that allows users to connect to websites], to do X and it’s passed by both houses of congress and signed by the president of the United States and we disagree with it then we would still fight it,’ he added. ‘If it’s a request the answer is we wouldn’t do it, if it’s a discussion we wouldn’t do it.’
Schmidt, who became Google’s executive chairman last month after a decade as its chief executive, described website blocking as akin to China’s restrictive internet regime.
‘I would be very, very careful if I were a government about arbitrarily [implementing] simple solutions to complex problems,’ he said. ‘So, ‘let’s whack off the DNS’. Okay, that seems like an appealing solution but it sets a very bad precedent because now another country will say ‘I don’t like free speech so I’ll whack off all those DNSs’ – that country would be China.
‘It doesn’t seem right. I would be very, very careful about that stuff. If [the UK government] do it the wrong way it could have disastrous precedent setting in other areas.’
Speaking at the same conference, the culture minister, Jeremy Hunt, said plans to block access to illicit filesharing websites were on schedule. He admitted that a ‘challenge’ of the controversial measure is deciding which sites get blocked.
Ofcom is due to present its report on the practicability of the site-blocking measures included in the DEA to Hunt in the coming weeks.
Responding to questions about Facebook secretly hiring the public relations firm Burson-Marsteller to plant scare stories over Google’s privacy policies in the US media, Schmidt said he would not comment.
However, he added: ‘A lot of people – not Google employees – have looked at these claims and generally found them to be false.’
THE DECLARATION OF MAY 15TH, 2011
Fundamental Rights and Freedoms Cannot Be Obstructed
1. Freedom of expression and right to access information of Internet users cannot be obstructed.
“Safe Internet” Filtering Regulations Must Be Repealed
2. The BTK (IT and Communications Institute) decision dated 02/22/2011 with number 2011/DK-10/91 lacks legal basis. The unjust decision gives BTK a right which is not prescribed by law. The legal decision also limits basic rights and freedoms protected by the constitution and international treaties directly. While open and unfiltered Internet access is being regarded as a basic human right by international institutions, in Turkey filtered Internet is about to become “the standard”.
3. The comments made by the BTK president claiming the “standard profile” is the current standard and anybody who opts-out will be left out of the filtering system are not correct. Neither there is a notion called “the standard profile” nor an established filter mechanism currently. With the forthcoming mechanism it will not be possible to stay out of the filtering system. If the government officials are really sincere they have to provide an “unfiltered” alternative to Internet users in Turkey.
4. The comments claiming that there will be no surveillance done with the new filtering system are hardly assuring. Clearly it’s not claimed that each and every user will be watched and monitored individually. However since every user will be part of the filtering system, it will open the door to allow the government to track any Internet user at any time at will. As the state does not have the right to monitor it’s citizens’ homes, they should not have the right to watch their Internet either.
5. The BTK filtering system which will take effect on August 22nd, 2011 is unpredictable by the users, arbitrary, and essentially a control and censorship mechanism structurally. The criteria for filtering websites through the different profiles under the BTK system is not disclosed to Internet users. The full authority to build and maintain the filtering lists are handed to BTK by BTK itself. Now BTK will render hundreds of thousands of websites unreachable arbitrarily which is far beyond the current disproportional blocking caused by Law No. 5651. Illegitimate, disproportional and arbitrary administrative operations are unacceptable in a democratic country.
6. Neither The European Union which Turkey is trying to be a member of, nor the Council of Europe which Turkey is currently a member of and none of the OSCE member states embrace any similar mandatory filtering systems. The Committee of Ministers for the Council of Europe strongly emphasized that public authorities must not obstruct access to public information or apply general blocking measures, and explicitly stated that such applications relying on state’s supervision shall be condemned.
7. Similar to previous blocking decisions, state officials are trying to use irrelevant countries as examples to legitimize their unjustified decisions. They are intentionally perversing the description of various state policies in their justifications. It is impossible to accept the state officials’ appeal to negative examples from across the globe to interfere with everybody’s lives in Turkey.
The Provided State Policies to Protect Children From Harmful Content Must Not Affect Adults
8. Both the European Union, and the Council of Europe of which Turkey is a member state advocates self-control mechanisms instead of legal precautions to protect vulnerable groups such as children. In this context, both organizations emphasize the importance of preventive measures to protect children which do not interfere with adult’s access to legitimate content. For that reason member states must encourage the use of filtering software in houses, school computers and Internet cafes but must avoid employing mandatory nationwide filtering policies. If filter use is found appropriate by families, that should be usedon their own personal computers.
Open, Transparent and Participatory Policies Must Be Implemented
9. Despite the repetitive and pressive requests, TIB’s (Telecommunications Directorate) avoidance from providing the official statistics regarding banned web sites belies the institutio’’s choice of using non-transparent and arbitrary decisions as the main method to outline and develop its policy. The government must implement a new policy to protect the children from harmful Internet content in a participatory way by getting broad public support (NGOs, Academy, and Private Sector). However that reform must not be another initiative to impose the majority’s moral values. In this perspective the statement “We just cannot ignore the complaints from religious people from remote parts of Turkey” stated the by BTK president to justify the new process is unacceptable. The administration does not have the right or the authority to impose conservative values upon whole Turkey. The new policy on Internet regulation must be developed with respect to freedom of speech and adult citizen’s right to consume and access any kind of legal Internet content. The new policy containing these principles should be materialized with a transparent, open and participatory method.
The Australian govt has decided to scrap its Voluntary Internet Filtering Grants Program in the 2011 federal budget.’The Government will not proceed with the Voluntary Internet Filtering Grants Program,’ reads the budget. ‘This will provide savings of $9.6 million over three years.’The plan was intended to help give ISPs give consumers an additional filtering option for content that wasn’t Refused Classification (RC), but that they still objected to.The govt said, however that there was ‘limited interest’ among ISPs in the grants, and that consumers had a number of filtering options at their disposal.’The Government provided $9.8 million in the 2010‑11 Budget to establish the Voluntary Internet Filtering Grants Program to assist internet service providers (ISPs) to offer customers internet filtering options on a commercial basis,’ continues the budget text. ‘However, consultation with industry has identified limited interest in the grants due to the increasing range of filtering technologies readily available to online users, including browser and search engine filters, and the decision of the three largest ISPs, which account for over 70 per cent of Australian internet users, to voluntarily filter child abuse sites using a list compiled and maintained by the Australian Communications and Media Authority.’The problem for Aussies (pronounced ‘Auzzies’ by the way), is that the govt still plans to push forward with an involuntary, i.e. mandatory, filtering scheme that’s been in the works since 2007.Stay tuned. news tip? email@example.com“
After years of failed efforts to eliminate online piracy copyright holders are trying a different plan of attack these days by eliminating freedom of movement on the Internet instead.After having already seized more than 100 domain names so far as part of the ongoing ‘Operation in Our Sites,’ legislators are pushing a proposal that would dramatically escalate that effort.The ‘Preventing Real Online Threats to Economic Creativity and Theft of Intellectual Property Act of 2011,’ or the ‘PROTECT IP Act,’ would give the DOJ and copyright holders additional tools against copyright infringing websites.In the case of a DOJ-initiated suit, the Attorney General can force US based third-parties, including ISPs, payment processors, online advertising network providers, and search engines to either block access the site or cease doing business with it.A copyright holder-initiated suit is limited to payment processors and online advertising network providers, and exempts ISPs and search engines.The PROECT IP Act talks about ’safeguards’ like allowing domain name operators or site owners to petition the court to have the orders vacated, but it still occurs after the fact and the damage done. It’s akin to being sentenced before trial.Search engine filtering is what should make everyone sit up and take notice. It ostensibly means that search engines could find themselves forced down a slippery slope of filtering all kinds of illegal material and sites. Online gambling is illegal in the US, for example; would these sites be next? What about sites that promote drug usage or other illegal behavior?Keep in mind also that this is all without the benefit of due process. Site owners from around the world would find themselves in an untenable situation of having to make the costly and arduous trek to a US courtroom to defend themselves, and against all manner of copyright holder accusations big and small.Worse still is that the Act encourages voluntary filtering and sanctions by immunizing from damages ‘actions taken against an Internet site where they have a good faith on credible evidence it is dedicated to infringing activities.’Stay tuned. firstname.lastname@example.org
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
ERISA DAUTAJ ŞENERDEM
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
A plan to require Internet users in Turkey to choose one of four content-filtering packages is unconstitutional and violates the right to freedom of expression, legal experts and civil-society groups have said.
‘[Turkish authorities] look at how they can impose regulations that limit the freedom of expression on the Internet, rather than promoting this freedom,’ Orhan Erinç, the chairman of the Turkish Journalists Community, told the Hürriyet Daily News in a phone interview Wednesday. He said that mentality had not changed for more than three decades, since the beginnings of radio and television broadcasting in the country.
The decision by the Prime Ministry’s Information Technologies Board, or BTK, to approve the filtering regulation is inconsistent with Turkish laws and with the country’s Constitution, said Yaman Akdeniz, a cyber-rights activist and a law professor at Istanbul Bilgi University.
‘The [BTK’s] decision is arbitrary and has no legal basis,’ Akdeniz told the Daily News on Tuesday, saying the board has no authority to make such decisions.
The news portal Bianet.org has filed a complaint on these grounds to the Council of State, arguing that existing Turkish legislation gives the BTK no authority to make and enforce such decisions and that the filtering application itself violates the Turkish Constitution and other laws.
‘Bianet.org argues in its complaint that the decision violates the Constitution, thus I expect the decision will be canceled by the Council of State. We still have to wait,’ Akdeniz said.
As the board’s decision does not have a legal basis, its limitations and authorities are not clear either, according to Kerem Altınparmak, an expert in human rights law who spoke Tuesday in an interview on NTVMSNBC. ‘According to what extent [and what measures] will such a decision be applied? There is no [provision] on this [on the decision].
‘If we assume that a family consists of five members, of ages between 8 and 60 and it has only one computer: which package shall it choose?’ Altınparmak said, adding that adults risked to be treated like children regarding access to various Internet websites.
BTK Chairman Tayfun Acarer has said the debate on the filtering application is ‘inaccurate’ and politically motivated.
‘Bringing this topic to the agenda these days is political,’ Acarer said, according to an Anatolia news agency report Wednesday.
Four Internet filters
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: family, children, domestic or standard. The list of websites filtered by each package will be decided by the BTK but will not be made public.
The change will be implemented starting Aug. 22.
According to Acarer, Internet users will maintain their current access to Internet websites if they chose the standard package. ‘How is it possible that [the BTK’s decision] is being manipulated in this way?’ he asked, saying a similar application was also available in European countries.
‘If we were to require everyone to take the children’s package, I would agree with the criticism,’ Acarer said. He added that people would be subscribed to packages other than the standard one only upon their own demand.
Appeal to the European court
The Turkish interactive website İnci Sözlük said Wednesday that it would appeal the BTK decision to the European Court of Human Rights if it does not get the results it seeks after exhausting all domestic judicial channels, according to a report by the television channel NTVMSNBC.
The BTK’s decision is inconsistent with the provisions on freedom of expression in the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the European Convention of Human Rights, said Erinç of the Turkish Journalists Community.
‘Turkey is party to both of these, which have supremacy over Turkish laws, according to the new constitutional amendments brought after the Sept. 12, 2010, referendum,’ Erinç said, adding that such provisions were ‘unfortunately’ not respected by Turkey.
The debate on the Internet filter heated up after the Telecommunications Directorate, or TİB, sent Internet hosting firms a list of 138 words, urging the companies to ban websites that contained any of these words in their domain name. Although the TİB said such a request aimed to protect children from exposure to dangerous content on the Internet, experts argued it was illegal. The TİB withdrew its request after harsh public reaction.
Access to thousands of websites is banned in Turkey, based on the Internet Ban Law No. 5651. Reporters without Borders put Turkey in the category of ‘countries under surveillance’ in its latest report on ‘Internet Enemies.’
Internet filtering plan spurs political debate
Turkey’s ruling party has said new Internet filtering requirements are not a ban on online content but a means of ‘control’ as the main opposition promises to open access to websites that have been blocked.
The decision by the Prime Ministry’s Information Technologies Board, or BTK, to require that Internet access be subjected to one of four content filters should not be considered censorship, said Ayşe Nur Bahçekapılı, the parliamentary group deputy chairwoman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, or AKP.
‘As a party, we already fight against bans but there are some websites that interfere in people’s private lives. So there should be a control mechanism to protect private life,’ she told the Hürriyet Daily News.
The main opposition Republican People’s Party, or CHP, responded to the filtering decision by launching a new motto on its official website: ‘You close [Internet websites], we will open them.’
‘There is no [time] in Turkey when we do not face new censures and pressures. There are many barriers put in front of the right of people to be informed in Turkey,’ the CHP said in an online statement on the issue, comparing the Internet restrictions to the censoring and imprisonment of journalists.
In the statement, the party said it had opened up its official website’s ‘CHP News’ section to reader comments. ‘Let this be an example to all those who after [silencing] the free press, try to silence the Internet after Aug. 22,’ the statement read.