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Informatics crimes

| 1/17/2007 12:00:00 AM | YUSUF KANLI

TDN editorial by Yusuf KANLI
There is need for a regulation against informatics crime. But, what about privacy of individuals and the probability of some government agencies “monitoring” our private electronic communication?

The government has finally sent to Parliament a draft penalizing “Informatics crimes” such as pedophilia, pornography, prostitution, inciting to suicide, gambling while empowering a new “Informatics Crimes High Board” to restrict access to Web sites that included elements in contravention to the Law Against Terrorism. According to the draft, besides the new high board, the National Intelligence Agency (MİT) will also be involved in tracking informatics crimes.

The draft, which was approved by the Cabinet on Monday, will be discussed at relevant parliamentary commissions in the weeks ahead before it finally reaches the general assembly for a final debate and vote on it. In this period, of course, not only the parliamentary commissions but hopefully various segments of the society -- particularly the informatics sector and the media -- will discuss this draft and help to eradicate some anti-democratic elements in it before it becomes law.

Minister ‘leaks' MİT's letter

Talking to reporters on the issue, State Minister Abdüllatif Şener made a crucial mistake yesterday that further increased our anxiety on this issue. The minister has mistakenly distributed a letter sent to him by the MİT Undersecretary Emre Taner complaining about the difficulties the national intelligence of the country was facing because of the legislation against phone tapping and eavesdropping and asking that through an amendment in the law the listening power of the MİT be enhanced. It was a scandal, of course, that a minister distributed to the media a top secret letter from the MİT undersecretary, but thanks to that mistake we have learned that there is a demand by the MİT that it be given wider listening powers.

Will the government take up the legislation against phone tapping and eavesdropping and make amendments in it in accordance with the demands of the MİT, or will it try to meet the demands of the MİT by adding an article in the new draft against informatics crimes? That will become clear during the debates on the new draft.

Also, no one can deny the need for introducing a regulation in this country against informatics crimes. The latest international operations against pedophilia should be considered on their own as a sufficient proof of the need to introduce some kind of a regulation to safeguard our children against such old crimes that have become all the more a greater risk with the advance of Internet.

‘Big brother' watching us

The draft stresses that while the Informatics Crimes High Board will have the power to provisionally or permanently close down Web sites involved in informatics crimes, in any case decisions of the board will be subject to court approval and if a court does not approve of the suspension or permanent closure decision, or a decision to restrict access to a foreign Web site within 48 hours after the board takes such a move, the decision of the board would be automatically lifted. That is, if we can have a clear definition of what the informatics crimes are, we may prevent this board to be established from becoming -- with the help of the MİT -- a new “big brother” scrutinizing unnecessarily our private lives. Besides, people will be asked to report information and complaints as regards to informatics crimes to an “informatics crimes alert center”.

What is worrisome, also, is the stipulation of the draft that a list of government agencies, including the MİT and the new high board to be established -- would be involved in tracking informatics crimes and for that purpose they would have the right to apply relevant “filtering” software to monitor even people's e-mail traffic or electronic chatting.

There is need for a regulation against informatics crime. No one can object to that. But, what about privacy of individuals and the probability of some government agencies “monitoring” our electronic communication?

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