Timely event will take place in London next week on 05 June, 2013.
‘FREEDOM OF EXPRESSION IN LIGHT OF TURKISH EU ASPIRATIONS’
Wednesday, June 5, 2013 from 7:00 PM to 9:00 PM (GMT)
Committee Room 15, House of Commons, Westminster
London, United Kingdom
The Centre for Turkey Studies (CTS) is pleased to invite you to a Westminster based forum on ‘Freedom of Expression in light of Turkish EU Aspirations’ featuring Prof Yaman Akdeniz and Dr Kerem Altiparmak.
Prof Yaman Akdeniz is a Professor of law and teaches at the Human Rights Law Centre at Istanbul Bilgi University, as well as being the founder and director of Cyber-Rights.org, and co-founder of BilgiEdinmeHakki.org.
Dr Kerem Altiparmak is currently the Director of the Human Rights Centre at the Faculty of Political Sciences at Ankara University, teaching human rights law. He is closely involved with NGOs in the field of human rights in Turkey, and has published numerous articles related thereto as well as media freedom in Turkey.
Please find more extensive biographies of each speaker below. This CTS Westminster Debate event is kindly hosted by Emma Reynolds, Labour MP.
We look forward to seeing you on Wednesday 5th of June 2013, between 7pm and 9pm, in Committee Room 15, House of Commons, Westminster. Please note that security checks are required to enter the House of Commons, so we kindly ask you to arrive at 6pm, allowing the event to start and end promptly on time.
Booking is required for this event
Please register on ceftus.org
Or RSVP to email@example.com
Or click here
It has been a while since I last had the chance to post something on the CyberLaw Blog. I have been following the Istanbul protests for the last few days and how the media ignored the events and self-censored itself until today. Major TV channels completely ignored the events of last night and even today most news coverage is provided from outside sources like CNN International and Al Jazeera. There is an excellent article in the Guardian entitled “Turkey prime minister faces fury as Istanbul erupts into mass protest”which provides a good overview of what is currently happening in Turkey. I tweet at @cyberrights in case anyone wants to follow. YA
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’.
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.
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.
May 3, 2011 – 1:03pm, by Dorian Jones
When Apple’s iPad went on sale recently in Turkey it sold out in less than an hour. The voracious appetite of Turks for web gadgetry seems matched only by the Turkish government’s desire to control access to the Internet.
Turkey already has the unenviable record of banning more sites than any other European country. The number is believed to be around 12,000, although official figures haven’t been released since 2009. Now the number seems set to skyrocket following the adoption of new regulations by the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate, or TİB, which administers the internet. TIB has recently banned the use 138 words on Turkish domain sites.
For example, sanaldestekunitesi.com (virtualsupportunit.com) faces closure because it has one of the proscribed words, ‘anal,’ can be found in its domain name. The number ‘31’ too is banned, as it is slang in Turkish for male masturbation. Other banned words include English words ‘gay,’ ‘beat,’ ‘escort,’ ‘homemade,’ ‘hot,’ ‘nubile,’ ‘free’ and ‘teen.’
Turkey’s Internet advocates have strongly criticized the new measure, warning of chaos and substantial losses to net users, providers and customers. ‘I think the TİB personnel who worked on the issues related to banning access are not endowed with the necessary technical knowledge and skills’ said Devrim Demirel, founder and chief executive officer of BerilTech, Turkey’s leading domain name and business intelligence company.
The changes are ostensibly designed to protect children, TIB officials claim. Thousands of sites have already been individually banned by the courts for similar reasons. The country’s governing Justice and Development Party, (AKP) with its Islamist roots, has used the same reasoning to introduce tough controls on the public consumption of alcohol.
Experts say it is relatively easy for Internet users in Turkey currently to circumvent controls by re-registering abroad, as there are many ways of accessing blocked sites via proxies and by using open domain servers. Legions of web users are believed to routinely flout the government’s restrictions. Past scofflaws include none other than the Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who once admitted to reporters that he accessed the YouTube video sharing site, which was banned at the time in Turkey. The ban was reportedly instituted because of a number of videos hosted on the site that denigrated the memory of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the founder of the modern Turkish state.
Even more draconian measures are set to take hold this August. Under the banner of ‘Safe Use of the Internet,’ all Internet users will have to choose from one of four filter profiles provided by Internet Service Providers. ‘We are concerned that the government [will] enforce and develop a censorship infrastructure’ said Yaman Akdeniz, a law professor at Bilgi University in Istanbul and an expert on Internet-related legal issues.
‘Even the standard profile is a filter system, and the problem is, it is government mandated, government controlled,’ Akdeniz continued. ‘There are no other countries within the EU or Council of Europe that has a similar system.’
Civil society activists, meanwhile, are concerned by the way in which the new controls were adopted: officials resorted to governmental decree, shunning parliamentary debate and approval. It is a method of rule-making that AKP leaders of late have used with growing frequency. In 2010, for example, a government decree banned couples from going abroad for artificial insemination. The new Internet regulations were not widely known until they were publicized by a Turkey-based human rights website, Bianet.
The fear is that the new filters will be used to block not only pornographic sites, but also the political ones. ‘Depending on the government, depending on the ministers, one can be put on the blacklist’ said Bianet’s head Nadire Mater. ’This is not democracy. We’ve experienced this before, because police from time to time distributed these blacklists to Internet cafes or companies: we were getting complaints from the visitors. They were saying that we don’t have any access [to] Bianet.’
The new regulation will also open the door for unspecified sanctions against anyone who seeks to circumvent filters, or who seeks access to proscribed websites. Under the new filter system the government will have access to individual web-user data.
Sites that are banned, as well as the criteria used for banning them, remain secret. ‘Already under existing controls, along with pornographic sites, hundreds of political sites are banned’ said Akdeniz, the law professor. ’And although the government claims that they predominantly block access to pornographic websites, several hundred alternative-media websites, especially websites dealing with the Kurdish debate, are blocked for political reasons.’
The new controls are now being challenged in the Danistay – Turkey’s highest administrative court. A number of cases are also pending at the European Court of Human Rights, including a case over the banning of the YouTube.
Dorian Jones is a freelance journalist living in Turkey. “
Friday, April 29, 2011
ERISA DAUTAJ ŞENERDEM
ISTANBUL – Hürriyet Daily News
The TİB sent a list of 138 words Thursday to Turkish web-hosting firms, urging them to ban Internet domains that include such words.
The TİB sent a list of 138 words Thursday to Turkish web-hosting firms, urging them to ban Internet domains that include such words.
A request made Thursday by the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate, or TİB, 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 Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review in a phone interview Friday. Akdeniz said no authority could decide that an action was illegal just by association.
The TİB sent a list of 138 words Thursday to Turkish web-hosting firms, urging them to ban Internet domains that include such words. The directive leaves tens of thousands of Turkish websites facing the risk of closure.
‘Hosting companies are not responsible for monitoring for illegal activities; their liability arises only if they take no action after being notified by the TİB – or any other party – and are asked to remove certain illegal content,’ Akdeniz said.
The TİB 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.
On Thursday, following the heated debate surround the ‘forbidden’ list, the TİB said the list was sent to hosting firms for informatory purposes. But the statement further confused the situation, as the body threatened companies with punishment if they did not obey its directions regarding the list in the first letter sent to service providers.
‘The TİB’s press statement is not clear, nor is it satisfactory,’ Akdeniz said, adding that it was a pity the directorate was still standing behind the list.
The TİB’s action is inconsistent with the related law and bylaw, and its subsequent statement contradicted both the request and the legislation,’ Devrim Demirel, founder and chief executive officer of BerilTech, Turkey’s leading domain name and business intelligence company, told the Daily News on Friday. He added they were still confused and did not know what their next move would be.
Demirel said they had no answers to the questions from hundreds of his company’s customers from Turkey and abroad, including Google’s com.tr and Yahoo’s com.tr services.
The TİB’s letter said the body would punish companies for not taking action to ban domains containing ‘forbidden words,’ but it did not specify what kind of punishment it implied, according to Demirel. ‘It is still not clear whether there will be administrative or other sanctions.’
Noting that the implementation of the TİB’s request on the forbidden names list could have many negative technical implications, Demirel said, ‘I think the TİB personnel who worked on the issues related to banning access are not endowed with the necessary technical knowledge and skills.’
He said customers had not taken any illegal action, but domains that include the words TİB wants to filter and then ban could incur losses.
‘There is no guarantee in the existing related legislation that I will not be asked to compensate the company in such a case,’ Demirel said, adding that there were many other complex technicalities like this one that could emerge should the TİB’s request be implemented.
Demirel said he received TİB’s letter via an email, which he said was neither ethical nor secure.
‘Do we have to make a technical check of the sender’s identity each time the TİB sends us an email? Requests with such important implications should be sent officially to each company’s office address, with the respective seal and signatures,’ he said.
Despite the problems, Demirel said banning websites in itself was the wrong approach. ‘Banning access to websites is in itself a censuring service.’
The TİB’s latest request also implied censure, he said.
Banned words have many scratching heads
The effect of the TİB’s request could see the closure of many websites that include a number of words. For example, the website ‘donanimalemi.com’ (hardwareworld.com) could be banned because the domain name has the word ‘animal’ in it; likewise, ‘sanaldestekunitesi.com,’ (virtualsupportunit.com) could be closed down because of the word ‘anal.’ Websites will also be forbidden from using the number 31 in their domain names because it is slang for male masturbation.
Some banned English words include ‘beat,’ ‘escort,’ ‘homemade,’ ‘hot,’ ‘nubile,’ ‘free’ and ‘teen.’ Some other English words would also be banned because of their meanings in Turkish: ‘pic,’ short for picture, is banned because it means ‘bastard’ in Turkish. The past tense of the verb ‘get’ is also banned because ‘got’ means ‘butt’ in Turkish. Haydar, a very common Alevi name for men, is also banned because it means penis in slang.
‘Gay’ and its Turkish pronunciation, ‘gey;’ ‘çıplak’ (naked); ‘itiraf’ (confession); ‘liseli’ (high school student); ‘nefes’ (breath) and ‘yasak’ (forbidden) are some of the other banned words.
The Telecommunication Communication Presidency banned 138 words and terms from the internet. The list also includes words used in everyday life. The number of access bans is expected to increase; also food home delivery sites or football supporters’ clubs will be affected.
Ekin KARACA, email@example.com
Istanbul – BİA News Center
29 April 2011, Friday
The list of ‘banned words’ is the latest outcome of a series of oppressive applications that day by day restrict internet freedom in Turkey more and more.
In a notification sent to all service providers and hosting companies in Turkey on Thursday (28 April), the Telecommunication Communication Presidency (TİB) forwarded a list of banned words and terms. Yet, this list also includes a number of ‘ordinary’ words that can be deemed indispensible in usual everyday life.
According to the list, names like ‘Adrianne’, ‘Haydar’ or words like ‘Hikaye’ (‘Story’) fall under the ban. Assoc. Prof. Yaman Akdeniz, lecturer at the Bilgi University School of Law, applied for the right to information to the Internet Department of the Telecommunication Communication Presidency as part of the Information Technology and Communication Council.
Internet expert Akdeniz requires information on controversial list
Akdeniz required information from TİB on several issues. The list comprises a total of 138 ‘forbidden words’ and is classified in three different groups. Akdeniz inquired why the first names ‘Adrianne’ and ‘Haydar’ from group II on the list were added in particular.
In the scope of Law No. 4982 on the Right to Information, internet expert Akdeniz also questioned who the names ‘Adrianne’ and ‘Haydar’ actually belong to.
Again in accordance with Law No. 4982, Akdeniz demanded to obtain the entire range of information and documents related to the preparation of the list.
In the same context, the internet expert requested information and documents regarding the execution of the new application.
Akdeniz put forward that the above mentioned information and documents were of immediate public interest and available at the Telecommunication Communication Presidency as part of the Information Technology and Communication Council. ‘The explanation of these documents is of public interest’, he stated and referred to Article 1 of Law No. 4982 that enshrines ‘the right to information according to the principles of equality, impartiality and openness that are the necessities of a democratic and transparent government’.
State forbids the word ‘forbidden’…
Several words on the list of ‘banned words’ are part of everyday life, e.g. the words Adrianne, Animal, Hayvan (‘Animal’), Baldiz (sister-in-law’), Beat, Buyutucu (‘enlarger’), Ciplak (‘nude’), Citir (‘crispy’), Escort, Etek (’skirt’), Fire, Girl, Ateşli (‘passionate’), Frikik (‘freekick’), Free, Gey (‘gay’), Gay, Gizli (‘confidential’), Haydar, Hikaye, Homemade, Hot, İtiraf (‘confession’), Liseli (‘high school student’), Nefes (‘breath’), Nubile, Partner, Pic, Sarisin (‘blond’), Sicak (‘hot’), Sisman (‘overweight’), Teen, Yasak (‘forbidden’), Yerli (‘local’), Yetiskin (‘adult’) etc.
According to the notification of TİB, domain names containing the words on the list will neither be assigned nor used and access to the existing ones will be suspended.
Sites of supermarkets or football supporters’ clubs affected as well
Considering certain supposedly ‘obscene’ words, the list is expected to cause a significant increase of censored internet sites.
Accordingly, words that overlap with two or three-word terms that are considered ‘obscene’ will be affected by the ban, too.
As reported by tknlg.com, also websites related to food home deliveries, online grocery shopping, IT, football supporters’ clubs or sites of advertising companies will be affected by the list of banned words. (EKN/BB/VK)
Dorian Jones | Instanbul April 25, 2011
Turkey already bans more websites than any other European country. Now the government is set to introduce new controls that officials say are needed to protect children. Critics fear they represent an effort control the web.
The Turkish government calls its new Internet controls Safe Use of the Internet. They are scheduled to take effect in August and will require all Internet users to choose from one of four filter profiles operated by their server provider. Law Professor Yaman Akdeniz at Bilgi University in Istanbul says the measures open the door to government censorship of the Internet.
‘We are concerned that the government [will] enforce and develop a censorship infrastructure,’ said Akdeniz. ‘Even the standard profile is a filter system and the problem is government mandated, government controlled and there are no other countries within the EU or Council of Europe that has a similar system. And the decision also states if anyone who tries to circumvent the system, further action may be taken.’
Government officials say the new regulations are needed to protect families, particularly children, from pornography. But critics say it is unclear which websites can be banned and for what reasons, and the regulations can also be used to silence political websites. Nadire Mater is the head of the Turkish human-rights web page Bianet.
‘Depending on the government, depending on the ministers, one can be put on the blacklist,’ said Mater. ‘This is not a democracy. We’ve experienced this before, because police, from time to time, they distributed these blacklists, and in some Internet cafes or companies we were getting the complaints from the visitors they were saying that we don’t have any access [to] Bianet.’
Bianet criticizes the government for establishing the new measures by decree, rather than by a vote in parliament and is challenging the new controls in court. Web freedom is a concern within the European Union, which Turkey is seeking to join. EU enlargement commissioner Stefan Fule stressed those concerns before the EU parliament earlier this year.
‘Freedom of press means guaranteeing a public space for free debate, including on the Internet,’ said Fule. ‘The European Parliament’s draft resolution rightly underlines these issues.’
That concern centers on Turkey’s record of courts banning more websites than any other European country. In 2009, the state stopped releasing figures, but the latest number is believed to be in excess of 12,000. Again, Professor Akdeniz.
‘Several thousands web sites have been blocked,’ said Akdeniz. ‘And although the government claims that they predominantly block access to pornographic websites, several hundred alternative-media websites, especially websites dealing with the Kurdish debate, are blocked access to for political reasons.’