Failed institutions 1: TİB
“For judicial and administrative institutions and other actual and legal individuals to benefit from all the facilities, we serve them the best quality, secure and human-oriented approach to technology. Also we supervise the measurement of transmissions made by telecommunications from the headquarters and regulate the content of the Internet in accordance with the instrument of the relevant legislation.”
That is the mission statement of Turkey’s Telecommunication Directorate (TİB). If you just read this, you may think it is very well-intentioned. However, under these big fancy words, there was always something about the directorate that has been bugging technology journalists. From its birth to every decision it has made, we stood against this institution. Now it is going to be shut down with a direct order from President Tayyip Erdoğan. I know that the reason why he wants this institution to be closed is not exactly the same as why I want it to be closed, but I still am happy that this failed institution is going down.
The Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication came into force with a decision in the Official Gazette published on July 23, 2005, and was founded with Law No. 5397.
With Law No. 5651 published in the Official Gazette on May 23, 2007, the Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication organized its tasks about the publications made on the Internet and the law regarding the fight against crimes committed by these publications. Accordingly, in connection with these tasks, an Internet Department was established. The presidency shows activity depending on the president of the institution directly under the structure of the Informational Technology and Communication Presidency which consists of the president, law, technical management, informational system, administration and the president of the Internet Department.
I have written many articles about Law No. 5651. It has been used to oppress thousands of innocent people. It has been used to shut down websites about evolution. The TİB always favored religion-based websites. It had shut down websites of people who had committed no crime but were using their right of freedom of speech.
In April 2016, the Hürriyet Daily News reported that the TİB had blocked access to Russia’s state news agency website Sputnik, without issuing prior notification, citing “legal considerations” from a law regarding crimes committed through online broadcasts.
“After technical analysis and legal consideration based on Law No. 5651, an administration measure has been taken for this website (sputniknews.com) according to decision No. 490.05.01.2016.-56092, dated 14/04/2016, of the Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication,” reads an error message that appears when users attempt to access the website from Turkey.
Sputnik Turkey Editor-in-Chief Mahir Boztepe announced the blockage on his Twitter account, adding that Turkish users were denied entry not only to the agency’s Turkish website but also to all its websites in 31 languages.
“Access blockage to Sputnik from TİB. No justification, many pretexts,” Boztepe tweeted, adding a message addressed to the Turkish media: “Do not fear, these days shall pass.”
No one was available for comment at Turkey’s telecom and Internet regulatory agency, Reuters reported.
There are thousands of websites that were punished by the Presidency just like Sputnik. The Presidency worked in a very closed group and they did not really let anyone interfere with their decisions. It was very appalling that they could decide to shut down websites as they wished.
Erdoğan is closing it down because there are many Gülenist members in its ranks. They are said to be directly responsible for many illegal operations.
I wish I could have the chance to tell Erdoğan that such an institution with superpowers over the internet was doomed to fail from the very beginning.