Turkey: The most expensive and forbidden Internet

The most expensive and forbidden Internet – Turkish Daily News Sep 23, 2008: “”

The most expensive and forbidden Internet, Tuesday, September 23, 2008


Last year, Turkish Internet users launched a terrific campaign to protest new prices. Despite responsible authorities continuing to handle the price rise their way. We know how poor the speed and quality of Internet connections, despite their astronomic prices. And now there comes the Internet bans.

I suggest you take a look at the Telecommunication Directorate Web site, a governmental institution protecting the country against the Internet, and read their mission posted at: (www.tib.gov.tr). No need to be an astrologer to figure out that the institution’s philosophy is not a quest for positive action or the better implementation of a genuine Internet policy. The entire issue is nothing but establishing a control and censorship machinery.

The first three activities in the job description of the Internet sub-directorate are to take preventive measures, to curb the access of harmful content and to determine broadcasting policy. And there comes the key article: For crimes listed in the first clause of the Article 8 of the Law (encouragement for suicide, child molestation, promotion of narcotics, hazardous substance for health, obscenity, prostitution and gambling) the directorate is responsible for the setting up of all required infrastructure, including a monitoring and information center in order to prevent these crimes.

Who can handle the new devices?

Since November 23, 2007, the Turkish Press Council have demanded amendments in clauses breaching freedoms of communication and expression of the Internet law. The law leaves the right of obtaining information via the Internet, as the widespread communication network of the day, to a bureaucrat, the Telecommunication Communication Director, and grants him censorship authority, according to the Council.

Neither the government nor the bureaucracy is capable of appropriately handling these new devices. Religious bans are now added to Kemalist bans in Turkey. Officials think the good old way of banishing across the board is easy and effective. Who is there to think of the finer points and details? This is how censorship works on the Internet. Instead of banning the problematic URLs, the entire site is being banned. The Internet world believes this is clumsiness.

The total number of Web sites banned by the Telecommunication Communication Directorate is 853. Last week only the ban on the You Tube access has been lifted. Censorship forced Internet users to protest. For instance, on the Web site www.sansüresansür.org, (censure the censorship) you find the following remarks:

No one should kill anyone and video broadcast his act. Preventing this, is not censorship. Same goes with rape, child pornography, drugs, etc. However, this is not the same with banning the entire site because of a single harmful content. If there are to be rules, they should be described clearly. Certain behavior such as obscenity or encouragement of suicide should not be enough to close down a site because these verdicts are subjective. Censorship is a danger in any kind of medium, not just in the virtual world. Censorship can spread to art, pictures, books or films. Therefore, we must stand up against any type of censorship because it means restriction to the right of obtaining information, infringement of our rights and letting others decide for us. So censorship is the violation of freedom.

For instance, the name of the sister organization established by the French in 1978, is the National Committee on Informatics and Freedom, not Informatics and Censorship. Of course, similar institutions in developed countries apply some sort of monitoring. Nevertheless, they all know that in this day and age and at this point information technology has reached, control and censorship is pointless.

Everyone knows that Turkey is one of the most important countries in the world. Nevertheless, when the issue comes to the Internet its name is mentioned with the following countries with outstanding democratic credentials: Belarus, China, Cuba, Egypt, Ethiopia, Iran, Myanmar, North Korea, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan, Vietnam and Zimbabwe.

© 2005 Dogan Daily News Inc. www.turkishdailynews.com.tr