Digital freedom body calls on Turkey to end Internet censorship ahead of polls

Access: Mobilizing for Digital Freedom has sent an open letter to the Prime Ministerand’s Office of Turkey to express their concerns about the censorship and restrictions being imposed on Turkish journalists and websites, calling on the Prime Ministry to end this censorship ahead of the Nov. 1 snap election.
The letter includes the signatures of various human rights, media, and political organizations in Turkey and around the world. In the letter, Access states that they sent the letter to and”request the cessation of online censorship of independent news organizations and journalists. We demand authorities refrain from imposing limitations on access to the Internet or specific online services and remind the government of its duty to protect the rights of people in Turkey to freely seek, receive, and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers.and”
Providing a short background on the Internet censorship, Access states: and”Since the passage of the Internet Law of Turkey (Law No. 5651) in 2007, Internet users in Turkey have been subject to various mechanisms of censorship online. Starting in 2013, there has been a dramatic increase in both bans on access to online content and requests to remove content. The Internet Law has been amended via omnibus bills without any room for public debate or criticism, most recently in March 2015. These latest amendments introduced measures similar to the provisions that were previously found unconstitutional and annulled by the Constitutional Court in October 2014. We also recall the 2012 ruling of the European Court of Human Rights finding that blanket bans on online platforms violate the fundamental right to freedom of expression.and”
Saying that they are concerned by the lack of transparency and accountability for court orders that restrict online content, the Access stated that the number of banned websites surpassed a total of 100,000, as of October 2015.
The Access stated that several grassroots groups, political parties, and news agencies will use internet-based communication systems to verify the official results of the general election on Nov.1 and to disseminate information. Thus, the platform requested Turkish authorities to and”stop imposing access bans on websites of independent news organizations,and” and”to pledge not to order any further blocking that might lead to limitations on access to the Internet or specific online services,and” and and”to ensure that online communication networks remain free and open, to protect the right of people in Turkey to freely seek, receive, and impart information.and”
The Access defines itself on its website as and”an international human rights organization premised on the belief that political participation and the realization of human rights in the 21st century is increasingly dependent on access to the internet and other forms of technology.and”
As Turkey is preparing itself for the election to be held on Nov. 1, some concerns are being voiced after the Cihan Broadcasting Corporation — one of Turkeyand’s main news broadcasting agencies — faced a barrage of cyber-attacks during the last few elections held in the country. Readers were at times unable to access the websites of some independent media outlets such as the Zaman, Todayand’s Zaman and Taraf dailies. The same problem was also experienced on the websites of the Radikal and SandOzcandu dailies as well as the Rotahaber news portal.

SOURCE: TODAY’S ZAMAN