SayNo2Censorship) In order to increase censorship and surveillance online, the Turkish government is proposing changes to Law No. 5651, otherwise known as the “Code of Publications on the Internet and Suppression of Crimes Committed by means of Such Publications.”
This does not bode well for the freedom of speech online. The proposed changes ensure that censorship will become ever more present in the future with the amendment to Law No. 5651. The following can be expected:
- New methods of blocking “harmful” content will be implemented. Rather than censoring the entire website, these methods will target the URL of infringing sites directly.
- Content that “denigrates particular sections of society on account of social status, race, religion, sect, gender, or region of origin” will be treated as a crime that warrants censorship.
- Internet Service Providers will be required to keep track of personal data and conduct sweeping surveillance on behalf of the government.
- The new blocking methods will make it impossible to access the censored content by merely changing DNS settings.
- The changes in the law hold the possibility to outlaw any blogs in Turkey on subjects other than food, fashion, and travel blogs. Those that include political commentary in particular will be suspect.
- New regulations will harm Internet Service Providers who will, then in turn, likely move their operations outside of Turkey.
- Targeted censorship against social media platforms will be censored much easier due to our Prime Minister’s declaration of Twitter as a “menace to society” and Facebook as “ugly technology.”
- Citizen journalism and independent media will be hit hardest.
The following has already occurred before the bill has been voted on:
- The regulatory bodies of the telecommunications and information have requested that a news portal take down an article on when the main opposition party submitted an official parliamentary question regarding censorship; This official question already exists on the website of the Turkish Grand National Assembly.
- An opposition member of the parliament, Umut Oran who has written his thoughts on his blog on the parliamentary questionnaire which he gave, faced with the surprise demand from telecommunications authority to remove content from his personal blog.
Since the likely changes that this amendment will bring are against the spirit of the Internet as we see it, we as the Turkish Pirate Party (korsanparti.org), have penned a declaration that denounces this particular law and the proposed changes to it. We invite you to read the entire declaration and, if possible, to support it. The stakes we face now cannot go any higher.
If these considerations are not taken into account, the aforementioned changes will be passed into law. We hereby declare that we do not recognize Law No. 5651 in light of the European Court of Human Rights, the Constitution of the Republic of Turkey, and International Law and Regulations, and thus we are notifying the Turkish public, the current government of the Republic of Turkey, and the world at large of this egregious threat to our online freedom.
Perchance our evaluations are not considered, necessary reforms to law be made and the currently discussed reform bill is passed to be made into law; we hereby declare that we do not recognize the concerned Law No. 5651 in light of the European Court of Human Rights, Constitution of the Republic of Turkey and international rule of law, and we serve notice to Turkish and world public opinion on censorship intentions as well as notifying and informing the current government of the Republic of Turkey.
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