Over 288,000 websites blocked in Turkey: Report

The Istanbul-based Freedom of Expression Association has said in a recently prepared report that while the number of websites and domains blocked in Turkey was 80,553 as of 2015, this figure went up to 288,310 as of October 2019. The report said that the Internet censorship in Turkey has reached an "astonishing level."

Duvar English

The number of websites and domains blocked in Turkey as of October 2019 has gone up to 288,310, according to a report released by the Istanbul-based Freedom of Expression Association (İFÖD) on Dec. 9.

“While as of beginning of 2015, access to 80,553 websites were blocked from Turkey, as of end of 2018 the number of blocked websites has risen to 245,825. As of end of October, 2019, access to a total of 288,310 websites are currently blocked from Turkey,” said the report.

Only in the first ten months of 2019, a total of 36,216 URLs were blocked in the country, according to the report.

The report was prepared as part of the Universal Periodic Review (UPR) process for Turkey. Through this UPR mechanism, the United Nations, on a periodic basis, reviews the fulfillment by each of the member states of their human rights obligations and commitments.

The report said that although a number of U.N. member states recommended Turkey to amend its Internet Law No. 5651 to bring it “in line with International and European standards, including case law of the European Court of Human Rights on the rights to freedom of expression and to privacy,” Turkey extended further its Internet blocking regime in March 2015 with the introduction of a new Article 8/A to Law No. 5651.

According to article 8/A of Law No. 5651, a judge may take a decision to remove content from or block access to the Internet on one or more of the following grounds: to protect the right of life or security of life and property; to protect national security and public order; to prevent the commission of a crime; or to protect public health.

“Article 8A based orders usually target Kurdish and left-wing news websites as well as several social media accounts and content associated with Kurdish journalists, dissidents and activists,” said the report. Websites such as Dicle News Agency, Azadiya Welat, Özgür Gündem, Rudaw, RojNews, ANF, Jin News are regularly and repeatedly blocked access to from Turkey together with news websites such as Sendika.Org6 and SiyasiHaber.Org, said the report. Similarly, article 8/A is regularly used to block access to news and content related to Turkey’s military operations, according to the report.

Indicating that the Internet censorship in Turkey has reached an “astonishing level,” the report also included some recommendations for the Universal Periodic Review process. Accordingly, it has called on Turkey to bring restrictions on Internet access to global platforms such as Wikipedia to an end and to bring the Internet Law in line with international and European standards.