Turkey’s top business group warns against Internet censorship

Turkey’s top business group warns against Internet censorship

Turkey’s top business group warns against Internet censorship

TÜSİAD Chair Muharrem Yılmaz. DHA Photo

Turkey’s top business group has warned that a government-led bill to increase control over the Internet is worrying and the planned regulations might lead to wide censorship on the Internet.

In a written statement released today, the Turkish Industry and Business Association (TÜSİAD) noted the issues of freedom of speech, intellectual property and personal secrecy on the Internet should be delicately handled.

The TÜSİAD noted access to thousands of websites has been blocked since Law No. 5651, widely known as the Internet Law of Turkey, came into effect in July, 2007.

“The law, which results in limiting the individual’s fundamental rights and freedoms, has also been subject to a ‘rights violation’ ruling of the European Court of Human Rights,” the statement read. “In such a situation, the planned amendments to the law are concerning and will increase censorship on the Internet. The draft should be cleared of articles that could harm the fundamental rights and freedoms and the Internet economy that is growing every day.”

Some articles added to an omnibus bill submitted to Parliament last week will permit authorities to limit access to the Internet and monitor all actions by individuals online and keep such records for two years.

Three articles about Internet usage were concealed within a longer draft bill on the Family and Social Policy Ministry’s organizational structure and responsibilities. The draft law will permit officials to limit keywords more easily, meaning access to videos on video-sharing websites such as YouTube that include keywords deemed problematic by Turkish authorities will be blocked.

All individuals’ Internet records, including details about what sites they have visited, which words they have searched for on the web and what activity they have engaged in on social networking websites, will be kept for one or two years, according to the draft law.

Web providers will also be forced to become members of a new Internet union to be formed under the control of government.

The TÜSİAD noted debating the Internet, which has significant importance in access to information and the distribution of knowledge, with the reflexes of banning contradicts the country’s target of creating an information society. “We expect Parliament to improve the draft by consulting with civil society organizations, academics and partners of the Internet ecosystem,” the business group said in the statement.