Friday, May 27, 2011

#22agustos: internet censorship, Turkey

Sadly, "Take Your Hands Off the Internet (Çekin Artık Elinizi İnternetten)" is a long-standing demand in Turkey; but there is a grave threat of even more censorship from the 22nd of August (22 Ağustos).

[I got so distracted by internet censorship that I forgot to explain the Blogspot-specific ban in this post; I have now summarised the (now-lifted) Blogger ban.]

Halal Internet

Part of the movement for censorship is the desire for "halal internet". 138 words have recently been banned from the Turkish internet domain names, and the excuse was to protect the public from pornography.

However, as Elma+Alt+Shift's image shows, many of the banned words are normal words that can have sexual meanings, like the number "31", or the word "oral" (so, appropriately enough, the Moral System of Islam is now invisible in Turkey).

Many of the banned words have nothing at all to do with porn, like "fire (ateş)", "hikaye (story)", "türbanlı (turbaned)"; the name "Adrienne"; and the English words "got" and "pic[ture]", because the internet cannot distinguish between those and the Turkish words "göt (arse)" and "piç (bastard)".

Appropriately enough, "free" websites are no longer free; "local (yerli)" websites will be even more local, "secret"/"hidden (gizli)" websites will now be truly hidden from Turkey; and, exquisitely, it is forbidden to use the word "forbidden (yasak)".

Other words have nothing to do with pr0n, but are apparently haram in Orthodox Islam, and show the frightening direction of the censorship: "biseksuel", "gay"/"gey"/"homoseksüel", "lesbian"/"lezbiyen", "travesti" (though, because it is incompetent bigotry, not "bisexual", "homosexual", "transvestite" or "transsexual").

(Kolodor yasak kelimeleri ele aldı.)

Even the legality and rules of the word ban are, politely, 'inconsistent'; and they may be 'unconstitutional'. On top of that, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) is already investigating a different Turkish internet ban (including on Ahmet Yıldırım's academic blog).

Amnesty guestimates that tens of thousands of websites are banned. Milliyet considered, '[t]here is no Internet Censorship; however one million websites are banned'; and banned websites are in distinguished company, as past victims include the Human Rights Association, the BBC and Google.

(I think the difference in numbers is due to some banned web addresses being entire platforms (like Blogspot or Youtube), which host many more sites. A (very) full list is available on Engelli Web (via street, with groups like Censor the Censor (Sansüre Sansür, which has a website and a blog), and websites like We Are Being Watched (İzleniyoruz) and Uncensored Internet (Sansürsüz İnternet).

As far as I know, Don't Touch My Internet (İnternetime Dokunma) is a new group against the new movement for more censorship; and you can follow popular discussion via the Twitter hashtag, #22agustos. has explained what #22ağustos is and how to bypass Turkey's internet ban and censorship.

Sites like ATunnel and bypass restrictions on website access (for example, URL and IP-based filters) and hide the user's identity; but as noted, 'obviously Proxy sites will also be banned'. judged that,
Tor [individual volunteers' computer networking] is no doubt a good resource, but can easily be hijacked, plus can be a pain, when you have high bandwidth needs. I won’t recommend it to you, if you need to make any transaction or transfer any private information, including passwords or high data transfer.
So (albeit unsurprisingly), the VPN review website recommended virtual private networks (VPNs).

I'm getting ready to change my blog (and platform), partly to help me avoid incompetent, indefensible censorship. Even switching platform may not be enough, because Wordpress has also been prohibited in the past. (Global Voices have reviewed the case.) But hopefully, there will be some way to write on and read Wordpress.

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