OSCE says Turkey blocking 3,700 websites
January 18th, 2010

Europe’s main security and human rights watchdog said today that Turkey is blocking some 3,700 Internet sites for “arbitrary and political reasons” and urged legal reforms to show its commitment to freedom of expression. Milos Haraszti, media freedom monitor for the 56-nation Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), said Turkey’s Internet law was failing to preserve free expression in the country and should be reformed or abolished.

“In its current form, Law 5651, commonly known as the Internet Law of Turkey, not only limits freedom of expression, but severely restricts citizens’ right to access information,” Mr Haraszti said in a statement. He said Turkey, a European Union candidate, was barring access to 3,700 Internet sites, including YouTube, GeoCities and some Google pages, because Ankara’s Internet law was too broad and subject to political interests.

Even as some of the content that is deemed ‘bad’, such as child pornography, must be sanctioned, the law is unfit to achieve this. Instead, by blocking access to entire websites from Turkey, it paralyzes access to numerous modern file-sharing or social networks,” Mr Haraszti said. “Some of the official reasons to block the Internet are arbitrary and political, and therefore incompatible with OSCE’s freedom of expression commitments,” he said.

Mr Haraszti said Turkish law was still failing to safeguard freedom of expression, and numerous criminal code clauses were being used against journalists, who risked being sent to jail as a result. “Therefore ‘reform or abolish’ the Internet Law is our main recommendation … (to ensure Turks can be) a part of today’s global information society.”

(Source: Reuters)