Saturday, November 1, 2008

Blogspot Back, but Internet Freedom Question to Persist

From Today's Zaman:
A ban on the popular blog-hosting service was lifted on Monday until “missing evidence” has been collected. The Diyarbakır First Court of Peace announced the decision on Monday afternoon by faxing a statement to Türk Telekom, a Turkish Internet service provider.

The statement indicated that the ban was lifted until missing evidence has been collected. The ban may be re-imposed when the court finds enough evidence to close down the site.
However, the statement reportedly did not explain what the missing evidence was.

Access to these sites was suspended Friday upon a complaint by Lig TV, the founding broadcaster of the Turkcell Super League. According to the complaint, the blog-hosting service enabled their users to watch soccer matches without subscribing to the TV station.

Turkish Internet users trying to access the popular blog-hosting service received an error message saying that access to the site has been blocked by court decision, without stating the court ruling or explaining why the service has been banned. The latest in a series of bans on popular Web sites has spurred many to question the future of Internet freedom in Turkey. The ban received harsh criticism from several associations and activists who said it was a great mistake to block access to the whole Web site instead of screening out unwanted content.

Several Turkish nongovernmental organizations advocating freedom of speech and expression stressed in a written statement on Monday that frequent Web site bans damage Turkey’s image abroad.
For more on the statement put out by a wide assortment of NGOs, click here. Sites like Wordpress, and even Google Groups, have been banned before. From BIA-Net:
In Turkey where access to a global video sharing site has been banned for six months now, of Google Corporation may meet the same fate as well.

The measures against websites are being taken under article 8 of Law 5651 on online publications and the fight against cyber-crime, which was adopted on 4 May 2007 and took effect in November 2007.

In Turkey, internet sites are banned if their content is deemed harmful to
children, encourage use of drugs, gambling, prostitution, dangerous elements for
health, pornography, suicide and contain insults against Atatürk, founder of

1112 internet sites, among them YouTube, as well, has been banned in Turkey.

Among those banned are,, Prof. Richard Dawkins',, and

Wordpress and Google Groups were banned before, but are now open.

In May 2007, twenty non-governmental organizations that are expert in telecommunications had declared that the Law of 5651, passed on May 4, 2007, had many problems as far as the freedom of expression was concerned, giving the bureaucracy the authority to censor any internet site without a trial.
One has to wonder at how easily a decision was made to shut down at the behest of Digiturk, what this has to say about the state's relation to corporations versus concerns with freedom of expression, and that little effort seemed to be made to narrrow the material restricted. Why was Blogspot restricted alongside

TDZ reports on Transportation Minister Binali Yıldırım's efforts to look into ways to block unwanted pages of websites versus the site as a whole.

At this rate, Article 8 of Law 5651 on Online Communications stands to become as infamous as Article 301, and will surely draw the attention of Europe and likely appear in the progress report due to be issued Nov. 5.

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