Since the Law No. 5651 entitled Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Suppression of Crimes Committed by means of Such Publication came into force in November 2007, access to a considerable number of foreign websites including popular websites such as YouTube, Geocities, DailyMotion, WordPress, Google Groups, and Google Sites have been blocked from Turkey under the provisions of this law by court orders and administrative blocking orders issued by the Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TIB). [Blog entry by Dr. Yaman Akdeniz]
Currently, under the provisions of Law No. 5651 access to over 3000 websites is blocked from Turkey. In terms of official statistics, it was revealed by TIB that as of 11 May, 2009, 2601 websites are blocked in Turkey under the provisions of Law No. 5651. While 475 (18%) of the 2601 websites are blocked by court orders, the majority, with 2126 websites (82%), are blocked via administrative blocking orders issued by TIB. In terms of the 475 court orders so far, 121 websites are currently blocked because they were deemed obscene (Article 226 of the Turkish Penal Code), 54 websites are blocked because they involved sexual exploitation and abuse of children (Article 103(1) of the Turkish Penal Code), 19 websites are blocked because of provision of gambling (Article 228 of the Turkish Penal Code), 20 are blocked because they involved betting, and 54 websites were ordered to be blocked in relation to crimes committed against Atatürk (Law No. 5816, dated 25/7/1951). 32 of these 54 blocking orders were recurring orders involving approximately 17 websites (majority involved YouTube) issued by different courts around the country. Furthermore, 5 websites were blocked in relation to prostitution (Article 227, Turkish Criminal Code), and one website was ordered to be blocked in relation to the facilitation of the use of drugs (Article 190 of the Turkish Penal Code).
More interestingly, 197 websites were blocked by courts for reasons outside the scope of Law No. 5651 but the detailed breakdown for these orders was not provided by TIB. It is however understood that TIB executed the blocking orders even though they do not involve the catalogue crimes listed in Article 8. The number of websites blocked outside the scope of Article 8 by the courts was 69 in May 2008 but reached nearly 200 by end of May 2009.
In terms of the 2126 administrative blocking orders issued by TIB, the majority, with 1053 blocking orders involved sexual exploitation and abuse of children (Article 103(1) of the Turkish Penal Code), 846 involved obscenity (Article 226 of the Turkish Penal Code), 117 involved football and other sports betting websites (Law No. 5728, article 256), 74 involved gambling sites (Article 228 of the Turkish Penal Code), 20 involved prostitution websites (Article 227 of the Turkish Penal Code), 11 involved websites facilitating the use of drugs (Article 190 of the Turkish Penal Code), 2 involved crimes committed against Atatürk (Law No. 5816, dated 25/7/1951), and one involved encouragement and incitement of suicide (Article 84 of the Turkish Penal Code).
It should be noted that TIB recently decided NOT to publish and reveal the detailed the official blocking statistics with regards to Law No. 5651, and since May 2009 I have not had access to such statistics. TIB’s decision is a step backwards and in the absence of information, openness, and transparency it will be even more difficult to monitor the current regulatory regime in Turkey.
Furthermore, blocking orders can also be issued by courts and by public prosecutors with regards to intellectual property infringements subject to the supplemental article 4 of the Law No. 5846 on Intellectual & Artistic Works as was witnessed with the blocking of Myspace, Last.fm, and akilli.tv during last few days. Such orders are predominantly issued with regards to websites related to piracy (e.g. The Pirate Bay), and IP infringements (e.g. Justin.TV), and media reports suggest that at least 3,000 websites are blocked under law No. 5846 from Turkey, and majority are blocked indefinitely. The Pirate Bay and MegaUpload are among those websites which are constantly blocked. During 2008, Google owned Blogspot, and Blogger were subjected to blocking under these provisions for a limited period of time because of football streaming piracy.
Therefore, currently, it is alleged that access to at least 6,000 websites is blocked from Turkey, and it could be speculated that the number is even higher than that. Engelliweb. com (http://engelliweb.com/) currently details 4196 blocked websites.
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