Venice Commission urges Ankara to review internet code

Venice Commission urges Ankara to review internet code

Emine Kart - ANKARA
Venice Commission urges Ankara to review internet code The Venice Commission of the Council of Europe (CoE) has recommended that Turkey’s government review its law on the internet which allows its telecommunications authority to block websites for “illegal or unsafe” content such as piracy, pornography or terrorism without any authorization from the government or a legal office.

“The system of access blocking by a decision of the Telecommunications Directorate [TİB] without prior judicial review [administrative measure] should be reconsidered. The balancing between competing rights and/or between the measure restricting the freedom of expression and the legitimate aims pursued by the measure should be carried out by a court and not by an administrative body,” the Venice Commission said in its draft opinion on the Internet Censorship Law No. 5651, which was obtained by the Hürriyet Daily News.

In a resolution on “the Protection of the safety of journalists and of media freedom in Europe,” adopted in late January 2015, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) requested that Venice Commission “analyze the conformity with European human rights standards of Law No. 5651 as well as its application in practice.”

The commission completed the draft in late May and presented it in its plenary session held on June 10-11.

“The requirement that the restriction must be ‘necessary in a democratic society’ should be introduced in the provisions concerning the four access-blocking procedures. The necessity of a fair balance between competing rights and interests when restricting the internet freedoms should be the guiding principle for the administrative authorities and the courts; an appropriate notification procedure should be put in place in all the access-blocking procedures under the law. The notification should contain information on the blocking measure and the reasons put forth by the authorities to justify the measure as well as existing remedies,” the commission said as part of a series of recommendations.

“A list of less intrusive measures than that of access-blocking/removal of content should be introduced in the law, in order to allow the authorities and the courts to apply those less intrusive measures whenever they are sufficient to attain the legitimate aim pursued by the restriction [proportionality assessment]; access-blocking measures should be measures of last resort,” it also said.