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Internet: Restricted Access

Internet: Restricted Access: A Critical Assessment of Internet Content Regulation and Censorship in Turkey (Released on 25 November, 2008)

By Dr. Yaman Akdeniz & Dr. Kerem Altıparmak

Published with the support of “Freedom of Expression” Programme of İnsan Hakları Ortak Platformu.

Book cover

How to obtain the Book: Internet: Restricted Access: A Critical Assessment of Internet Content Regulation and Censorship in Turkey can be obtained through the following websites: http://www.cyber-rights.org.tr; http://cyberlaw.org.uk; and http://www.ihop.org.tr/ as an e-book in PDF format, and versions in Turkish and English are available from Tuesday, 25 November, 2008. Furthermore, paper copies of the book can be obtained through bookshops in Turkey.

PDF versions:

1. Internet: Restricted Access: A Critical Assessment of Internet Content Regulation and Censorship in Turkey - black/white version
2. Internet: Restricted Access: A Critical Assessment of Internet Content Regulation and Censorship in Turkey - colour version
3. For the Turkish version of the book click here (Türkçe)

Executive Summary
There may be different approaches to the growth of the Internet in different societies and the impact of the Internet on different nation-states may have different results. Different nation-states present a different level of economic development, respect for rights, trans-nationality, and technological sophistication. While Turkey may be considered at a developing stage with respect to the Internet, others may be far more sophisticated with regards to Internet access, use, and penetration. Inevitably, this will be reflected in the policy making process and approaches to the governance of the Internet. Because of cultural, historical and socio-political diversity, there will inevitably be divergent approaches to the growth and governance of the Internet in different European societies. For example, while the German and French governments have political fears and sensitivities about the use of the Internet by Neo-Nazis, the United Kingdom takes a more relaxed attitude to the dangers of racism but conversely has a long cultural tradition of repression towards the availability of sexually explicit material. On the other hand, the Turkish government may be more concerned about defamatory statements made in relation to state officials and politicians, other values related to the State and the dissemination of racist and terrorist propaganda. No doubt, those concerns must not lead to the violation of international standards for the protection of freedom of expression in democratic societies.

Restricted Access by Yaman Akdeniz & Kerem Altıparmak assesses the nature of Internet content regulation and censorship in Turkey by providing an overview of the current legislative regime from a critical perspective. This will include legislative attempts to regulate Internet content in Turkey as well as a critical assessment of the recently enacted Law No. 5651 on the Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Suppression of Crimes Committed by means of Such Publications and its related regulations. This will also include an analysis of the legal responsibilities of various actors including content providers, hosting companies, access providers (ISPs), and Internet cafes. The book also assesses how the current regulatory systems work and how websites, predominantly situated outside the Turkish jurisdiction, are blocked by court and administrative orders by giving examples. The book also assesses blocking orders which fall outside the scope of the new legislation.

Freedom of expression has been one of the key issues in Turkey’s democratisation process. The European Court of Human Rights has found Turkey in violation of the ECHR in a number of article 10 cases. The new Turkish law on Internet contains provisions that have potential to cause similar violations. Thus, this study examines the new regulations bearing this situation in mind. The book also contains an overview of international developments with regards to Internet content regulation  at the European Union, and Council of Europe levels.

In Restricted Access, the authors Akdeniz & Altıparmak argue that Law No. 5651 was rushed through the Parliament just before the Parliament was dissolved for the 2007 general elections, and it has received no broad public support before or after its enactment. More importantly, the authors identify several problems and procedural defects with the application of Law No. 5651. Furthermore, Akdeniz & Altıparmak argue that the current Turkish regime, through its procedural and substantive deficiencies, is designed to censor and silence political speech. Its impacts are wide, affecting not only freedom of speech but also the right to privacy and fair trial. In its conclusion, Restricted Access calls for the abolishment of the Law No. 5651, and calls upon the government, among other recommendations, to commission a major public inquiry to develop a new policy which is truly designed to protect children from harmful Internet content while respecting freedom of speech, and the rights of Turkish adults to access and consume any type of Internet content.

About the Authors

Dr. Yaman Akdeniz is a Senior lecturer (Associate Professor) at the School of Law, University of Leeds. Akdeniz is the founder of Cyber-Rights.Org based in the UK, and the co-founder of BilgiEdinmeHakki.org, a pressure group working in the field of freedom of information law in Turkey. His recent publications include Internet Child Pornography and the Law: National and International Responses (London: Ashgate, 2008: ISBN: 0 7546 2297 5). For further information about his work see http://cyberlaw.org.uk. Akdeniz can be contacted at lawya@cyber-rights.org

Dr. Kerem Altıparmak is an Assistant Professor at the Ankara University, Faculty of Political Sciences. He is also responsible for a number of projects carried out by the Human Rights Centre of the Faculty. He is the author of numerous works on human rights in Turkey. His interest areas include freedom of expression, ECHR, national human rights institutions. For further information about his work see http://80.251.40.59/politics.ankara.edu.tr/altipar/. Altıparmak can be contacted at kerem.altiparmak@politics.ankara.edu.tr

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