A law that gives prosecutors and courts the legal right to block access to certain Web sites has caused much embarrassment to Turkey, as some have exploited the system against freedom of speech, but the law has also served a good purpose, as a majority of the sites shut down had content encouraging drug use, illegal gambling and obscenity, including the sexual exploitation of children.
The Law on Fighting Cyber Crimes has unfortunately been abused by various individuals to cause site blockages. The popular Web site YouTube was banned numerous times in Turkey under the same law. The blogging site Blogger.com, visited by millions every day, and biologist Richard Dawkins’ site were victims of similar abuses of the system.
According to data from the Telecommunications Administration (TİB), since Nov. 23, 2007, when the law went into effect, a total of 1,187 site-blocking rulings were issued. Nearly half of these, 438 decisions, were issued due to content involving the sexual exploitation of children online. This was followed by obscenity as the main reason for closure in 414 incidents. Other reasons included online prostitution (12), facilitating narcotics acquisition (1), encouraging suicidal behavior (1), illegal gambling sites (35), providing a physical location and the opportunity for gambling (86) and other (14).
Crimes against the memory of Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, were the reason 51 Web sites were blocked.