“There are still frequent website bans of disproportionate scope and duration. Since May 2009 the Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TİB) has published no statistics on banned sites. A case has been brought against the TİB for not supplying statistics on the banned sites, as this is not in line with the Law on the right to information. Court cases are also ongoing against the You Tube video-sharing website and other web portals. The Law on the Internet, which limits freedom of expression and restricts citizens’ right to access to information, needs to be revised. In April 2011 TİB, basing itself on the Internet Law, sent a letter to hosting companies asking them to cancel websites which included certain potentially provocative words. This raised heavy criticism, to which TIB responded that the list of words was intended to assist hosting companies identify allegedly illicit web content.
Reacting to strong criticism, the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) amended its February 2011 regulation on the principles and procedures for safe usage of the Internet. The revised version, which was adopted in August 2011, responds to a number of concerns, in particular by making the Internet filters explicitly optional. After a testing phase ending in November 2011 the system will be available to all users. Implementation in line with European standards will be essential.
Overall, open debate, including on issues perceived as sensitive, continued. practice, freedom of expression is undermined by the high number of legal cases and investigations against journalists, writers, academics and human rights defenders and undue pressure on the media, which raises serious concerns. The present legislation does not sufficiently guarantee freedom of expression in line with the ECHR and ECtHR case law and permits restrictive interpretation by the judiciary. Frequent website bans are another cause for serious concern. Turkey’s legal and judicial practices, legislation, criminal procedures and political responses are obstacles to the free exchange of information and ideas. (pp. 26 – 27)”