Milliyet: “There is no Internet Censorship; however one-million websites are banned”

“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: 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? Swimwear promotion website car sales website house to house transportation service website Klas FM radio website Modelling agency Promotional site for beauty products Polyclinic website Hotel website Tent and tarpaulin products, promotional site Textiles website Beverages sales website ‘Şanlı Urfalılar’ (people from Urfa, city in South-Eastern Turkey) Association’s website ‘Ankara ÇokSesli’ music association website Kaos GL LGBT News portal 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’.