Thursday, June 19, 2008

Every Move You Make

Apparently, I had YouTube access for a brief time on Wednesday night before the website was once again restricted. YouTube access has long been denied within Turkey along with access to several other sites for a whole array of different reasons (see May 9 post). According to Today's Zaman, if the Ankara Chief Prosecutor's Office gets its way, Turks will no longer be able to evade court rulings by accessing banned websites via proxyservers.

For more on Internet freedom, see Gareth Jenkins' recent article:

The first change came in 2004 and 2005 when ADSL broadband, which is the almost exclusive preserve of a single company, Turk Telekom, began to replace dial-up access, which had been provided by over 100 Internet Service Providers (ISPs). As a result, the authorities effectively must notify only one company in order to block access to what they consider undesirable websites.

In 2007 the Justice and Development Party (AKP) rushed through a new law to regulate the Internet. Law No. 5651, which came into force on November 27, 2007, listed the terms under which access to websites could be blocked by the courts: seven offences in the Turkish Penal Code (ranging from “encouraging suicide” to “facilitating the use of narcotics,” “obscenity” and the “sexual exploitation of children”) as well as a 1951 law that makes it a criminal offence to denigrate the memory of Ataturk. Law No. 5651 also required ISPs to store details of all the websites visited by their subscribers for a period of one year (see EDM, November 16, 2007).

Even before the introduction of Law No. 5651, the authorities had begun to order Turk Telekom to block access to certain sites, extending the restrictions on laws designed for the printed word into the digital domain. The Turkish courts forbade access to 153 websites in 2005, 886 in 2006 and 549 in 2007 (figures from, a website for Turkish Internet professionals). Access has been forbidden to a further 124 websites under Law No. 5651 since it came into force on November 27, 2007.

Click here for Jenkins' coverage from November.

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