Turkey Takes Censorship Several Steps Further

    May 25, 2007

Over two months ago, authorities in Turkey found a video on YouTube that implied Ataturk, the country’s founder, was gay.  Turkey banned YouTube, YouTube removed the clip, and the Turkish government got way too cocky – it’s now reserved the legal right to block any website with content it finds offensive to Ataturk’s memory.

Our previous coverage of this story led to one of the most “energetic” comment sections WebProNews has ever seen.  This time around, Reporters Without Borders seemed to get worked up as it responded to Turkey’s decision.

“It shows the authorities want to force website editors to censor themselves,” the group wrote.  “The possible consequences of this law are very disturbing.  Will subversive content also be banned from chat forums?  How far does the government want go to impose its control on online dissent?”

Indeed.  Some people might also be interested in Reporters Without Borders’s description of the Turkish regulation.

Article 8 of Law 5651 on the “Prevention of crimes in the computer domain” calls for content to be blocked if it violates a 1951 law on “crimes against Atatürk.” The article says: “When there is sufficient evidence of the improper aspect of content (…) access must be blocked.” As well as punishing “crimes against Atatürk,” Law 5651 also punishes “inciting suicide” (article 84), “sexual abuse of children” (article 103), “prostitution” (article 227) and “inciting drug use” (article 190).

Well, Turkey may have done it this time.  It beat Google, but can it beat the world?  In related news, the Post Chronicle reports, “New French President Nicolas Sarkozy said Thursday he does not believe Turkey should be admitted to the European Union.”