12 CyberLaw, “Turks marched against government censorship of the Internet in Istanbul,” July 19, 2010, http://cyberlaw.org.uk/2010/07/19/17-temmuz-2010-internette-sansuru-protesto-etmek-icin-2000-kisi-yuruduk/ TURKEY FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net VIOLATIONS OF USER RIGHTS The constitution includes broad protections for freedom of expression, stating that “everyone has the right to express and disseminate his thought and opinion by speech, in writing or in pictures or through other media, individually or collectively.” Turkish law and court judgments are also subject to the European Convention on Human Rights and bound by the decisions of the European Court of Human Rights. While thousands of websites have been blocked under Law No. 5651, there have been no prosecutions of individuals for publication of the proscribed content. There are no laws specifically criminalizing online expression or activities like posting or downloading information, sending e-mail, or transmitting text messages. However, many provisions of the criminal code and other laws, such as the Anti-Terrorism Law, are applicable to both online and offline activity. Article 301 of the criminal code has been used against journalists who assert that genocide was committed against the Armenians in 1915, discuss the division of Cyprus, or write critically about the security forces. Book publishers, translators, and intellectuals have also faced prosecution for insulting Turkish identity. Thus far there have been no prosecutions under Article 301 for online material, but the possibility of such charges significantly contributes to self-censorship.
The constitution states that “secrecy of communication is fundamental,” and users are allowed to post anonymously online. The constitution also specifies that only the judiciary can authorize interference with the freedom of communication and the right to privacy. For example, judicial permission is required for technical surveillance under the Penal Procedural Law. However, the anonymous purchase of mobile phones is not allowed, and would-be buyers need to provide official identification. The use of encryption is currently not prohibited or regulated by law, and Turkey has yet to adopt a data-protection law.
Despite the constitutional guarantees, most forms of telecommunication have been tapped and intercepted in practice.13 Between 2008 and 2009, several surveillance scandals received widespread media attention, and it has been alleged that all communications are subject to interception by various law enforcement and security agencies, including the Gendarmerie (military police). Some reports indicate that up to 50,000 phones—both mobile and land-line—are legally tapped daily in Turkey, and 150,000 to 200,interception requests are made each year. During 2009 it was alleged that phone conversations involving members of the parliament, journalists, Supreme Court and other judges, and prosecutors including the chief public prosecutor were tapped. For a history of interception of communications, see Faruk Bildirici, Gizli Kulaklar Ulkesi [The Country of Hidden Ears] (Istanbul: Iletisim, 1999); Enis Coskun, Kuresel Gozalti: Elektronik Gizli Dinleme ve Goruntuleme [Global Custody: Electronic Interception of Communications and Surveillance] (Ankara: Umit Yayincilik, 2000).
“Basavc Engin dinlenmi ve takip edilmi” [The Chief Public Prosecutor’s Calls Are Tapped],” Radikal, November 12, 2009.
TURKEY FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net Such actions have been challenged in court on at least one occasion. In 2008, responding to complaints lodged by the TIB, the Supreme Court of Appeals overruled a lower court’s decision to grant both the Gendarmerie and the National Intelligence Agency (MIT) the authority to view countrywide data traffic retained by service providers. The court stated that “no institution can be granted such authority across the entire country, viewing all people living in the Republic of Turkey as suspects, regardless of what the purpose of such access might be.”15 Nonetheless, similar powers to access and monitor data traffic have been granted to the MIT and the National Police Department. Faced with criticism on the issue, the parliament in 2008 launched a major inquiry into illegal surveillance and interception of communications. However, the inquiry concluded in January 2009 without finding any “legal deficiencies” in the interception regime.
ISPs are not required to monitor the information that goes through their networks, nor do they have a general obligation to seek out illegal activity. However, all access providers, including internet cafe operators, are required to retain all communications (traffic) data for one year. Administrative fines of 10,000 to 50,000 lira ($6,400 to $32,200) can be imposed on access providers if they fail to comply, but to date no ISP or other provider has been prosecuted.
All mass-use providers are required to use one of the filtering programs approved by the TIB, which are published on the TIB’s website. However, criteria for approval of these programs are not publicly available, and it remains unclear whether the approved programs filter websites other than the ones formally blocked by the courts and the TIB. As a result, the system could lead to systematic censorship of websites without the necessary judicial or TIB orders.
There were no reports of extralegal intimidation or harassment of bloggers or others for their online activities, though some internet content was believed to have contributed to the 2007 murder of Hrant Dink, the editor in chief of the bilingual Turkish-Armenian newspaper Agos. He had received several death threats via e-mail, and it was reported that his teenage killer was influenced by the writings on certain ultranationalist websites and online forums. Such sites are not covered by Law No. 5651 and have not been subject to blocking or regulation.
Unlike physical attacks, technical attacks are becoming increasingly common. On June 18, 2010 a serious denial of service (DoS) attack hit the websites of the Ministry of Transportation (http://www.ubak.gov.tr/), Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) (http://www.tk.gov.tr/), and the Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TIB) (http://www.tib.gov.tr/). These websites were inaccessible for exactly 10 hours.16 A press release sent by the hackers stated that they stopped the attack as a “Supreme Court of Appeals Overrules Gendarmerie Call Detail Access,” Today’s Zaman, June 6, 2008, http://www.todayszaman.com/tz-web/news-144038-supreme-court-of-appeals-overrules-gendarmerie-call-detail-access.html.
The Register: DoS attack stuffs Turkey’s internet censors, June 18, 2010, http://www.theregister.co.uk/2010/06/18/turkey_dos_attack/.
TURKEY FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net goodwill gesture, but the reason behind the attack was to protest against the unlawful blocking of access to YouTube and related IP services which crippled popular Google related services such as Maps, Docs, and Analytics from Turkey in June 2010. Turkish hackers are known to engage in minor cyberwars with their Greek and Israeli counterparts as well.
TURKEY FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net UNITED KINGDOM 2009 POPULATION: 62.2 million INTERNET FREEDOM Free Free INTERNET PENETRATION: 84 percent STATUS WEB 2.0 APPLICATIONS BLOCKED: No Obstacles to Access 2 SUBSTANTIAL POLITICAL CENSORSHIP: No Limits on Content 7 BLOGGERS/ONLINE USERS ARRESTED: Yes Violations of User Rights 14 PRESS FREEDOM STATUS: Free Total 23 INTRODUCTION The United Kingdom has high levels of internet penetration, and online freedom of expression is generally respected. However, both the government and private parties have presented ongoing challenges to free speech rights in connection with antiterrorism efforts, public order, and intellectual property. The biggest controversy in the past year was the adoption of the Digital Economy Act on the last day of the outgoing government in April 2010. The law allows for the blocking of websites as well as the cutting off of user accounts based on claims of intellectual-property rights violations. In a positive development, the newly elected coalition government has promised to review and repeal a number of laws that negatively affect online free expression and privacy.
The United Kingdom has been an early adopter of new information and communication technologies. The University of London was one of the first international nodes of the ARPAnet, the world’s first operational packet switching network that later came to compose the global internet, and the Queen sent her first ceremonial email in 1976.
Academic institutions began to connect to the network in the mid 1980s. Internet service providers (ISPs) began appearing in the late 1980s and more general commercial access was available by the early 1990s.
UNITED KINGDOM FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net OBSTACLES TO ACCESS Access to internet in the United Kingdom is widespread, and there are few practical barriers, even in rural and disadvantaged areas. The share of homes with computers has increased from 46 percent in 2000 to 76 percent in 2009, rising 6 percentage points between 2008 and 2009 alone.1 Broadband is almost universally available, with 99.6 percent of all households capable of obtaining ADSL connections and 49 percent able to connect via cable. There is no significant difference in access between urban and rural access. As of December 2009, 73 percent of homes had internet subscriptions, and 96 percent of those used broadband.2 The Conservative Party, which heads the coalition government elected in May 2010, has promised superfast broadband for all homes by 2017.
Those in the lowest income groups are significantly less likely to have home internet subscriptions. In addition, the share of people over 65 with an internet subscription is half that of all other age groups, but the gap has been narrowing; in the past year, two million more people obtained connections, half of them over age 50.Mobile-telephone penetration is nearly universal, with second-generation (2G) networks available in 98 percent of households and third-generation (3G) services available in around 87 percent. Some 93 percent of all households have at least one mobile phone, with 75 million in active use. Use of mobile broadband is also increasing, but it is still low at 15 percent of all households, and is most popular among younger users. Prices for telecommunications access, including mobile telephony and broadband, have continued to decline. In fact, between 2003 and 2008, cost of mobile service declined at an average annual rate of 11.8 percent to about 16 pounds (US$25) per month.4 The price of broadband has declined 33 percent in the past five years to about 13 pounds (US$21) per month while increasing in speed from 0.6Mb to 8.2Mb/sec.The government does not place limits on the amount of bandwidth ISPs can supply, and the use of internet infrastructure is not subject to governmental control. ISPs are increasingly engaging in traffic shaping or slowdowns of certain services, such as peer-topeer (P2P) file sharing and streaming television, while mobile providers have begun to cut back previously unlimited access packages for smart phones, reportedly because of concerns about network congestion. The Office of Communications (Ofcom), the country’s Ofcom, The Consumer Experience 2009: Research Report (London: Ofcom, December 2009), http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/market-data-research/market-data/consumer-experience-reports/ce09/.
UK Online Measurement Company, “Almost Two Million More Britons Online Than Last Year—Over Half Are Over 50,” news release, June 30, 2010, http://dl.dropbox.com/u/4340062/UKOM%20PR%20290610.pdf.
Ofcom, “Mobile Evolution: Ofcom’s mobile sector assessment,” December 2009, http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/binaries/consultations/msa/statement/MSA_statement.pdf.
Ofcom, “The Communications Market 2010: UK,” August 2010, http://www.ofcom.org.uk/static/cmr-10/UKCM5.92.html.
UNITED KINGDOM FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net telecommunications regulator, adopted a voluntary code of practice on broadband speeds in 20086 and is currently holding a consultation on the subject.The United Kingdom provides a competitive market for internet access, with approximately 700 ISPs in operation, but 95 percent of users are served by five major companies. ISPs are not subject to licensing but must comply with the general conditions set by Ofcom, such as having a recognized code of practice and being a member of an alternative dispute-resolution scheme.8 Ofcom’s duties include regulating competition among communications industries, including telecommunications and wireless communications services. It is generally viewed as fair and independent in its oversight.
LIMITS ON CONTENT There is no general law authorizing filtering or blocking of internet content. The Internet Services Providers’ Association (ISPA) adopted a code of practice in January 1999 under which ISPs voluntarily agree to follow the decisions of the Internet Watch Foundation (IWF) on which content to block.9 The IWF, a British charity funded by the industry and the European Union (EU), operates hotlines and investigates allegedly unlawful content.10 It reportedly orders blocking of some 10,000 web pages from around the world every year, and its list contains 500 to 800 live URLs at any given time.11 Most of the content blocked or taken down includes pornography, particularly involving children, and terrorism.
The CleanFeed filtering system, developed by British Telecom and the IWF, blocks access to any images or websites listed in the IWF database. It is estimated that 98.9 percent of all UK traffic is filtered using CleanFeed or other, less-sophisticated systems.12 In 2009, the Home Office shelved plans to require all ISPs to implement the IWF blocking list.However, an office of the Treasury Department sent out a memorandum in March stating that government bodies were prohibited from signing contracts with companies that did not agree to comply with the IWF list. Ofcom, “Voluntary Code of Practice: Broadband Speeds,” June 5, 2008, http://www.ofcom.org.uk/telecoms/ioi/copbb/copbb/.
Ofcom, “Traffic Management and 'net neutrality' - A Discussion Document,” http://stakeholders.ofcom.org.uk/consultations/net-neutrality/, accessed October 30, 2010.
Ofcom, “The General Authorisation Regime,” http://www.ofcom.org.uk/telecoms/ioi/g_a_regime/, accessed March 30, 2009.
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