Ongoing mandatory filtering imposed by the State- Misleading strategy about safe Internet use in Turkey …

ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES ASSOCIATION
PRESS RELEASE

06 August 2011

Web: http://www.alternatifbilisim.org  E-mail: bilgi@alternatifbilisim.org  Twitter: @altbilisim

Ongoing mandatory filtering imposed by the State

Misleading strategy about safe Internet use …

“Draft Procedures and Principles on Safe Internet Service” was published on the website of ICTA on August 4, 2011. The public is requested to give opinion on this draft for 10 days. According to Article 15 of this draft, these Principles and Procedures are going to be put in force on August 22, 2011.

The first point we would like to underline is that this change is due to the citizens staking a claim to their Internet and the pressure made by their organizations. This change has proved how right the overall reaction is.

Our evaluations about the decision are briefly mentioned below:

  1. This change is certainly insufficient. Since the central filtering done by the State is still maintained, it is unacceptable. The public is misled by the “Safe Internet” definition. In fact, the Internet censored through filtering is presented as something “Safe”. This “Safe Internet” definition must be left. Everybody wants to have safe Internet, but the filters done by the State will not assure safety on the Internet. Such a filtering is nothing but censoring.
  2. What is offered to the public is indeed a standardization decision. It is foreseen that these filters are prepared by ICTA on behalf of the State by consulting an ostensible institution. In reality, it will be ICTA to decide which websites are inconvenient for families and which are convenient for children. A single family and child filtering will be applicable to all users, which means the design of single type of child/society.
  3. As this regulation makes ICTA the only actor dealing with filters, it is autocratic.
  4. The majority of the members of the Committee that will set out the general criteria regarding the lists are from the State. This Committee will be composed of 11 members in total. Out of these 11 members, 3 of them will be from the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, 2 of them will be from the Internet Board,   2 of them will be from ICTA. The remaining 4 will be elected by ICTA among 8 people specialized in various expertise fields and proposed by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies (Article 10/ Clause 3). 7 members of the Committee of 11 will be chosen from the bureaucrats of the political power and the remaining 4 will be elected by ICTA among the ones proposed. This is not equal. Moreover, the experts will be elected by ICTA. Besides, the fact that there is no scientist interested in communication, informatics or no expert specialized in new media and digital games gives us an idea about the duty assigned to this Committee. As it can be seen, this Committee is only for show and is not competent enough to decide which contents should be (in)accessible by citizens.
  5. As we have explained many times, the Council of Europe emphasizes that the only way to guarantee safe Internet to children and young people is to increase their digital literacy skills. It is obvious that there is a great inequality in the safe use of the Internet among regions, sexes, social classes and age groups in Turkey, which can also be seen in numbers.  (see SPO Report on Information Society, 2010 and TUİK 2011). The Internet-related problems in Turkey result from the insufficiency in digital literacy, skills and qualified use. FILTERS OR PROFILE SELECTION AS NAMED IN THIS DRAFT CAN NEITHER SOLVE THIS EDUCATION DEFICIT NOR REPLACE EDUCATION.
  6. Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe published a comprehensive report on the freedom of expression on the Internet in 2011. This report which had addressed Turkey specifically does not recommend the filtering done by the State under any circumstances. It suggests that families can rely on their own selections and use the volunteer filtering packs already available in the market. In fact, such filtering software is still present in Turkish software industry.
  7. Then, why do ICTA and political power (the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry in Charge of Family and Social Affairs) still insist on regulating the Internet environment?

What Turkish Internet users need is neither censor nor filters. They need positive macro social policies that secure the right to access, take the Internet as a fundamental right of citizens and catch the related opportunities.

You can find below the details of our evaluation and the questions we have prepared to ask to ICTA. These evaluations are going to be submitted to ICTA on behalf of our members and Internet supporters.

To the attention of all Internet users and to whom it may concern.

DETAILED REPORT:

On the Information Technologies and Communication Authority’s decision dated 4 August 2011 and numbered 410:

Ongoing mandatory filtering imposed by the State

Misleading strategy about safe Internet use …

“Draft Procedures and Principles on Safe Internet Service” was published on the website of ICTA on August 4, 2011. The public is requested to give opinion on this draft for 10 days. According to Article 15 of this draft, these Principles and Procedures are going to be put in force on August 22, 2011.

1. The decision on “Safe Internet” is a decision for FILTERING AND CENSOR

This draft was prepared on February 22nd, 2011 for the first time and then it was detailed and its wording was revised in accordance with the decision of the Board. There is an ongoing lawsuit of annulment about it at the Council of State.  Now, the updated draft compulsorily categorizes Internet users in two groups: Internet users who demand “Safe Internet Service” and Internet users who do not demand such a service. It should be mentioned that the adjective “safe” is “tricky” and even “foxy”. This time, the expressions “black list” and “white list” used for the sites inaccessible by families and accessible by children respectively have been removed. The expression “mandatory filtering done by the State” has been softened and it is presented as it did not exist. The word “filter” which was one of the main concepts in the previous decision has been filtered and replaced with “list”. When the word filter is replaced with the word list, do you think the attempt to design or create one single type of family and child will fail? No! As we will detail soon, the ICTA’s censor to be imposed on the Internet users in Turkey is being legitimized under the pretext of “Safe Internet Service”. The public is misled with the expression “Safe Internet Service”.

Then, how do they benefit from people’s sensitivity? In other words, how do they remove people’s concerns about the safe Internet use?

2. “Safe Internet” is a standardization decision.

Who wants unsafe Internet? That’s the point where the problem occurs. In Article 4 (1-d) of the draft decision, Safe Internet Service is defined as follows: “The service composed of child and family profiles offered free of charge to the subscribers upon demand. The problem in this definition is about the family and child profiles which are explained in clauses (b) and (c) of the same article by feeding the moral panic named “protection of children and families”. In clause (b) of Article 4, family profile is defined as “the profile in which there is no access to domains, sub-domains, IP addresses and ports mentioned in the family profile list sent to the operators by ICTA”. In clause (c) of Article 4, child profile is defined as “the profile where there is access to domains, sub-domains, IP addresses and ports mentioned in the child profile list sent to the operators by ICTA”.  These definitions are misleading. If one pays attention, s/he can easily see that ICTA, acting in the name of the State, can determine the websites it deems inconvenient for families and convenient/ideal for children however it wants. It sends this information to the operators through hidden channels and makes these lists compulsory. In fact, what is misleading is this soft/implicit wording.  The compulsory and unavoidable filters to be imposed by the State are hidden. In Article 6, it is stated that each operator providing Internet service will offer these two profiles, namely “family” and “child” profiles, to users who have preferred “Safe Internet Service”. In fact, as it is seen, the political authority and its bureaucrats do not sacrifice from their new society design at all. The criteria of “suitable families and suitable children” are set out and planned. Briefly, a single type of family and a single type of child are foreseen for this society.

3. The decision on “Safe Internet” is autocratic.

Different from the first decision, in the updated version, there is an answer to the question “Who will make the filtering lists in these unnamed profiles?” In Article 10, it is stated that there is a Safe Internet Service Adhoc Committee. However, this Adhoc Committee is only for show. That it is for show is obviously seen in clause (3) of Article 4: “The lists to be used within the scope of Safe Internet Service in line with the principles decided by Safe Internet Service Adhoc Committee are determined by the Board- that’s ICTA.  It is ICTA that is the only able institution to determine filters through which inaccessible sites for families and accessible sites for children will be decided. The advisory role of the Adhoc Group is clearly explained in sub-clause (ç) of clause (5) of the same article. The Board can consult the adhoc group, if it wants.

4. “Safe Internet Adhoc Committee” should not be for show.

As to the composition of the Adhoc Committee: this Committee will be composed of 11 members in total. Out of these 11 members, 3 of them will be from the Ministry of Family and Social Policies, 2 of them will be from the Internet Board,   2 of them will be from ICTA. The remaining 4 will be elected by ICTA among 8 people specialized in psychology, pedagogy, sociology and other related fields and proposed by the Ministry of Family and Social Policies (Article 10/ Clause 3). Thus, there is a Committee of 11 members. 7 of them are the bureaucrats of the political power. The number of experts versus the number of bureaucrats is unfortunately unequal. Besides, the experts will be chosen by ICTA. It would not be wrong to say that the ideologists who serve for “ideal society” design of the conservative and protectionist ideology will apply for this position.  Another interesting point is that the expertise fields such as communication, informatics new media and digital game and the scientists specialized in these fields are ignored in this committee. The composition of this committee shows us to what extent ICTA cannot comprehend the socio-political developments in Turkey. On the one hand, the ban on the game sites imposed by the State is legitimized within the framework of family profile; on the other hand, another political power in Turkey, The Ministry of Sports is establishing TURKISH DIGITAL GAMES FEDERATION (TUDOF) and elects a President (3.8.2011). The representative of Turkish Digital Games Federation should also be present in this Committee. One of the seats shared by bureaucrats should be granted to TUDOF.  In fact, the expert who can know about digital games, production processes and genre is either TUDOF expert or communication or informatics experts who have done academic research in this field. That the Ministry of National Education, which is in charge of the education of this country’s children and young people, has no seat in this committee is unfortunately an indicator of the importance attached to education. Another deficiency in the composition of this committee is that the NGOs dealing with the Internet, Internet technology and Internet culture is not represented.

If ICTA is to establish a committee named “Safe Internet Adhoc Committee”, this Committee should deserve this name and research the requirements of safe internet use. However, according to this decision, the committee is assigned as a watchdog of the “State filter” decided and applied by ICTA on its own. A real study on safe use of Internet is possible only with a committee composed of communication, new media, social and technical experts, not bureaucrats. Furthermore, such a committee must be autonomous and fully independent. In its present situation, this Committee is dependent on political will.

5. Real safe use can be guaranteed with education, not filters/lists!

As we have explained many times, the Council of Europe emphasizes that the only way to guarantee safe Internet to children and young people is to increase their digital literacy skills. It is obvious that there is a great inequality in the safe use of the Internet among regions, sexes, social classes and age groups in Turkey, which can also be seen in numbers.  (see SPO Report on Information Society, 2010 and TUİK 2011). The Internet-related problems in Turkey result from the insufficiency in digital literacy, skills and qualified use. FILTERS OR PROFILE SELECTION AS NAMED IN THIS DRAFT CAN NEITHER SOLVE THIS EDUCATION DEFICIT NOR REPLACE EDUCATION.

Organization for Security and Cooperation Europe published a comprehensive report on the freedom of expression on the Internet in 2011. This report which had addressed Turkey specifically does not recommend the filtering done by the State under any circumstances. It suggests that families can rely on their own selections and use the volunteer filtering packs already available in the market. In fact, such filtering software is still present in Turkish software industry. Then, why do ICTA and political power (the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry in Charge of Family and Social Affairs) still insist on regulating the Internet environment?

6. ICTA’s insistence exceeding its rights and authorities must be questioned!

Professor Livingstone, the Coordinator of EU KINDS ONLINE Project, in which Turkey has also participated, said in the panel on June 16, 2011 that the digital skills are insufficient in Turkey. This problem cannot be solved with technical bans blocking or allowing pages through filters and lists. In other words the solution of this problem is not “list censor”. FOR ABOUT 7 MONTHS, MANDATORY FILTER DONE BY THE STATE IS ON THE AGENDA OF TURKEY AND IT IS BEING PUT ON THE AGENDA UNDER THE NAME OF LIST SELECTION. WHY IS TURKEY LOSING TIME? WE SHOULD BE AWARE THAT ICTA IS NOT AN INSTITUTION CAPABLE OF TAKING PEDAGOGIC DECISIONS AND QUESTION WHICH COMPETENCIES AN INSTITUTION MUST HAVE TO GIVE FINAL DECISIONS ON THESE LISTS.

If there must be an Adhoc Committee, there must be 1 bureaucrat and the representation of TUDOF, MoNE and related NGOs must be strengthened. Academic expertise fields must be diversified and this ADHOC COMMITTEE must go beyond a simple advisory committee/for show. By the way, this committee must not be a new “committee of OBSCENITY”! The decision-makers for these lists cannot be ICTA in any circumstances.

Briefly, we would like to inform the public that:

The LISTS imposed by the State (ICTA) cannot serve for democratic and pluralist social/cultural structure. On the contrary, they create a one-dimensional human profile and homogenize public discourse.

Unfortunately, the list of access blockage/accessible sites contributes to nothing, but standardization of citizens. Therefore, Safe Internet Use is essentially censorship and against human rights because it limits access to information and information source and ICTA’s lists confiscate people’s discernment.

WHAT IS REQUIRED FOR SAFE INTERNET USE IS TO TRANSFER SOURCES TO EDUCATION WHICH WOULD SUPPORT and IMPROVE DIGITAL LITERACY SKILLS.

Filters and lists for blocking access are still imposed by the State under the pretext of “Safe Internet Use” and people are unfortunately misinformed.

Moreover, the Regulation on the Consumer Rights in Electronic Communication Sector, referred to in this draft and the Law on which this regulation is based does not authorize ICTA to make such a regulation.  We should clearly mention that: ICTA is overriding its authority with this decision and a law suit of annulment must be entered.

WE ARE ASKING TO ICTA!

  1. Article 4 (1-ı)   defines “warning and informative website”. What kind of information do such websites cover? If the idea of informing people is taken as a basis in filtering, then why are the white-black lists kept hidden? How can we understand whether or not a website is filtered, by opening the websites one by one? Why are we exposed to filtering on a site whose content we do not have any idea about?
  2. Article 4 (1-ı) defines “warning and informative website”. What does “warning” mean here? If filtering is voluntary, then why is there a need for “warning”? What are the responsibilities to be assumed if this warning is not taken into consideration?
  3. Article 5 – (1) says “The subscribers who do not want Safe Internet Service will continue to receive the current Internet service without any change at all”. However, there are access blockages in the Internet service we are currently benefiting from. These access blockages are done through DNS diverting. When we pass to this filtering (or list) system, how will the access blockages be applied, through a list or as in the previous system? If they will be applied through a list, why don’t they talk about this change and hide it from users? This unfiltered/list free Internet is in fact filtered, isn’t it?
  4. Article 7 (3) offers three options in family profile: “I do not want to enter Game/Chat/Social Media sites”. Those who don’t want to enter these sites do not have to mention this. Actually nobody will force them to enter these sites. Then, what does this expression mean? Considering what will happen in practice, wouldn’t it be more convenient to say “I don’t want the people for whose service I pay to enter game/chat/social media sites”?
  5. According to Article 7 (3), people using family profile can prefer to ban game/chat/social media sites. Why is this so? What is the conflict or dilemma between family life and game/chat/social media sites?
  6. Article 7 (3) offers three options in family profile: “I do not want to enter Game/Chat/Social Media sites”. Does it mean that such websites are unnecessary, abnormal, extra or luxury things for families?
  7. If we interpret these expressions as such, then can we infer that filtered internet will be offered at cheaper prices and expanded in the future and unfiltered internet will be more expensive? In such a situation, will high prices for unfiltered internet be legitimized?
  8. Article 10 (4) covers the principles related to “family” and “child” security as decided by the Adhoc Committee. How will the public be informed about these principles? ICTA is said to implement these principles. What will we do if ICTA fails to comply with these principles? Besides, there are 7 bureaucrats versus 4 experts in the Adhoc Committee. What is the reason for this inequality? Furthermore, there are no experts specialized in communication or digital games. Why is this so? Why is the MoNE ignored?
  9. According to Article 10 (5-b), “Users can object”. In how many days, will their objection be addressed? What will happen if the objection is not addressed? Why is there no explanation about these points? 
  10. According to Article 11 (3), operators can offer services “under different names”. Does this mean that there won’t be any other internet service named “family” or “child”?
  11. According to Article 11 (4), operators will ensure the confidentiality of the personal data and information security while offering Safe Internet Service. Will this be applicable to those who do not receive Safe Internet Service? Does this measure also cover the ban on online/digital audit with DPI?
  12. If this service only covers the filters called “family” and “child”, what is the point in calling it “safe internet”? A really safe internet service cannot be ensured with filters. There are so many things that put Internet security in danger: unconscious use, violation of the security of personal data and privacy, excessive commercialization and DPI technologies supervising the freedom of communication are the leading ones.

“SAFE INTERNET SERVICE” OFFERED BY ICTA IS A “TR FILTER” DESIGNING ONE SINGLE TYPE OF FAMILY AND CHILD ACROSS THE COUNTRY”.

HOWEVER, WE WANT BOTH A SAFE WORLD/TURKEY/SOCIAL LIFE COVERING ALL DIFFERENCES- DIVERSITIES AND CENSOR-FREE AND FREE INTERNET!

-ANNEX-

The new practice was called “filter” in the decision dated February 22:

http://www.btk.gov.tr/mevzuat/kurul_kararlari/dosyalar/2011%20DK-10-91sss.pdf

In the new draft, the word “filter” is removed, why?

http://www.btk.gov.tr/mevzuat/kurul_kararlari/dosyalar/2011%20DK-14%20410.pdf

ALTERNATIVE INFORMATION TECHNOLOGIES ASSOCIATION

Web: http://www.alternatifbilisim.org  E-mail: bilgi@alternatifbilisim.org  Twitter: @altbilisim

Ongoing mandatory filtering imposed by the State- Misleading strategy about safe Internet use in Turkey … için 2 cevap

  1. […]  [49] Alternative Informatics Association, “Ongoing mandatory filtering imposed by the State: Misleading strategy about safe Internet use in Turkey,” August 6, 2011. [Online]. Available:https://yenimedya.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/1775/ […]

  2. […] [49] Alternative Informatics Association, “Ongoing mandatory filtering imposed by the State: Misleading strategy about safe Internet use in Turkey,” August 6, 2011. [Online]. Available: https://yenimedya.wordpress.com/2011/08/07/1775/ […]

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