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RIGHTS > Euro court fines Turkey for Internet restriction

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The applicant Ahmet Yıldırım complained that a court decision to block access to Google Sites prevented access to his own personal website. DAILY NEWS photo

The applicant Ahmet Yıldırım complained that a court decision to block access to Google Sites prevented access to his own personal website. DAILY NEWS photo

The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) yesterday found Turkey guilty of violating the right of freedom of speech in its practice of blocking access to certain websites on the Internet.

In a case filed by Turkish citizen Ahmet Yıldırım, who complained that a court decision to block access to Google Sites prevented access to his own personal website, the ECHR unanimously held that Turkey was to pay the applicant 7,500 euros in respect of nonpecuniary damages and 1,000 euros for costs and expenses.

Yıldırım owned a website hosted by the Google Sites service, on which he published his academic work and his opinions on various matters.

On June 23, 2009, a Denizli court ordered the blocking of an Internet site whose owner had been accused of insulting the memory of Atatürk. The order was issued as a preventive measure in the context of criminal proceedings against the site’s owner.

The blocking order was submitted for execution to the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB). Shortly afterward, the TİB asked the court to extend the scope of the order by blocking access to Google Sites, which hosted not only the site in question but also the applicant’s site. The TİB stated that this was the only technical means of blocking the offending site, as its owner lived abroad.

The TİB blocked all access to Google Sites and Yıldırım was thus unable to access his own site. All his subsequent attempts to remedy the situation were unsuccessful because of the blocking order issued by the court.

In its ruling, the ECHR said although neither Google Sites nor Yıldırım’s own site were concerned by the abovementioned proceedings, the TİB made it technically impossible to access any of those sites, in order to implement the measure ordered by the Denizli court.

The ECHR said it “was not a blanket ban but rather a restriction on Internet access.”

Law no. 5651 on Internet regulations “failed to meet the foreseeability requirement under the Convention and had not afforded the applicant the degree of protection to which he was entitled by the rule of law in a democratic society,” the ECHR said, adding that “the effects of the measure in question had therefore been arbitrary and the judicial review of the blocking of access had been insufficient to prevent abuses.”

December/19/2012

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READER COMMENTS

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mara mcglothin

12/20/2012 3:23:37 PM

Spot on ! AGNES You can lead a horse to water....

Köksüz Kosmopolit

12/20/2012 9:42:53 AM

BiT is right: the ECHR is not an EU institution. It is an institution of the Council of Europe. And Turkey is not merely a member state of the Council; it is one of the founding members.

Agnes Smith

12/19/2012 10:44:46 PM

lara - you are happy how this is leading? I will ask you again in 2 years when you can't watch a thing and wearing your headscarf and then most of us will happily and willingly move elsewhere and why coz we can. What about our Turkish buddies and mates we will leave behind to deal with the mess you are not willing to confront now.

lara ulusoy

12/19/2012 10:03:36 PM

I apologize if I offended anybody here. Turkey is a very friendly place and Turkish people welcome all. But if I was in any European country or anywhere else in the world and I am not happy there and keep criticizing, then maybe it would be wiser for me personally to live somewhere else. My whole point is that Turkey has many positive points and has really improved in so many ways, I just wish that people would emphasize that rather than just negatives.Again my apologies. Nothing personal.

Brit in Turkey

12/19/2012 6:32:27 PM

The ECHR is not part of the EU, even though it sounds as if it is.

Thessalonian

12/19/2012 6:30:26 PM

@lara ulusoy. You wrote "Why should the EU interfere in Turkish affairs?" In otherwords, what you are suggesting and or desire is for the uninterrupted perpetuation of AKP's oppressive policies with regards to human rights and freedoms. Furthermore, you are absurdly and unfairly labelling those who express criticism towards the latter as haters and suggest they leave the country. Why is that? Regards

DutchTurk JANICAR

12/19/2012 4:59:42 PM

@ Nikos T, If the European Court of Human Rights is right, than Greece should also acknowledge the Turks of Western Thrace as Turks, not just as Muslim minority. (Since the ECHR convicted Greece for that and stated that it has to acknowledge them as Turks). Or do you also show your Greek hypocrisy on that topic, also known as "hypocrisis".

mara mcglothin

12/19/2012 4:04:32 PM

LARA Today no country is self sufficient. This is a common myth in Turkey. Regardless of what you believe, Turkey is not an island and it is hopelessly connected to the rest of the World. By your thinking then perhaps I should offer that the USA does not need anyone, and if you don't care for us, then you should all move out of USA, but then again, that is not the principle that my country was founded on, where all are welcome.

Optimist 23

12/19/2012 2:56:38 PM

True, if you don't like the court result, attak the court itself, a typical pattern. Sice its creation 1959 it has shown that no country respects the 100% to the Human Rights Convention 100% of the time. It is just Turkey- together with Russia- who has the most verdicts against it. Wonder why!

Vargen Vargen

12/19/2012 2:19:44 PM

Lara Ulusoy. You seem more concerned about the court than the life of Turks and their rights. But to answer your question. Turkey has signed an aggreement that ECHR can serve as a court for domestic issues. The cases brought to ECHR are brought there by individuals or organisations, just like any ohter court. Turkey does have many cases against it, but that is not because of nagging Europeans, but because a lot of cases are ending up there. But you should be more concerned about rule of law.
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