Turkish court finds gov’t authority to withhold info on internet limitation after Feb. 6 quakes unlawful

A Turkish court has ruled that it was unlawful for the state-run Information and Communications Technologies Authority (BTK) to withhold documents on its internet limitation decision during the Feb. 6 quake rescue efforts.

Duvar English

Academic Yaman Akdeniz on March 20 announced that a Turkish court approved his right-to-information application regarding the bandwidth limitation the state-run Information and Communications Technologies Authority (BTK) imposed during the Feb. 6 quake rescue efforts. 

Akdeniz submitted a request to the BTK to see five administrative documents about the bandwidth limitation decision, according to reporting by the online news outlet Diken. 

“My requests were evaded with standard responses,” noted Akdeniz. 

The law professor then applied to an administrative court to rescind what he called “an unlawful response that violated the right and freedom to information.”

The BTK held that it had a right to withhold  the documents Akdeniz requested to access because they were “confidential.”

Akdeniz stated that the requested documents included a Presidential decree, two court rulings, and two correspondence documents requesting the bandwidth limitation. 

“Undoubtedly, these types of documents cannot be confidential. Nor did any of them have a confidentiality order, " the professor added. 

The court has unanimously ruled that BTK’s withholding of information was unlawful.

Two days after two severe earthquakes hit southeastern Turkey on Feb. 6, major social media platforms Twitter, Tiktok, and Ekşisözlük were restricted for ten hours.

The bandwidth limitation followed severe criticisms of the government’s response to the earthquakes. Especially Twitter has been a key communication platform for thousands of people to share locations about their loved ones trapped under the rubble and direct rescue operations to them.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) had similarly filed a criminal complaint against the BTK and other top government officials about the incident.