Turkish parliamentary commission approves bill for tighter website blocking
Hürriyet PhotoA commission at the Turkish Parliament has approved a much-debated omnibus bill giving authority to the prime minister or any of his ministers to block any website without a court order for a broad range of reasons.
The Prime Ministry or related ministries will be able to demand that the Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) close websites within four hours on the basis of national security, protecting public order or preventing crime, according to an article submitted to parliament late on Feb. 4 as part of an omnibus bill about foundations and associations.
Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication Lütfi Elvan cited examples of similar legislation elsewhere in the world, saying that in the U.S. the authorities are able to use authority to block telecommunications without a court ruling if the case relates to national security.
According to the draft, if the URL cannot be blocked then the TİB will be able to block the entire website in the name of “protecting the right to life, protecting people’s life and property, national security, public order, preventing crime, or protecting general health,” Elvan added.
Websites must be blocked by content providers or hosting providers within four hours of the decision being sent by the TİB, and will remain closed until the content is removed.
Another regulation that granted similar rights to the TİB was passed in parliament on Sept. 10, 2014, sparking protests from Internet rights groups. The main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) appealed to the Constitutional Court on Sept. 15, 2014 to annul the changes, arguing that they further restricted Internet use in Turkey and increased the government’s control of web traffic. On Oct. 2, 2014, the Constitutional Court ruled as “unconstitutional” the TİB’s authority to close websites within four hours without a court ruling.