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Lawsuit filed against government-proposed Internet filtering system

(BIANET/IFEX) - 16 November 2011 - The Alternative Information Association launched a trial against the Prime Ministry Telecommunication Association (BTK) on the grounds of a central internet filtering system that the BTK wants to implement. The lawsuit is calling for the revocation of the "Principles and Procedures for Safe Internet Service" published by the BTK and the corresponding decision.

The much-disputed internet filter application was submitted on 22 February but withdrawn in August as the result of negative public reaction. The proposal was subsequently revised and a new version was published by the BTK on 16 September.

On 4 November, the Alternative Information Association filed a lawsuit with the Council of State demanding that it revoke the BTK proposal and arguing that it constitutes censorship. The association gave the following reasons for the trial:

- Fundamental rights and freedoms according to Article 13 of the Constitution can only be restricted by law. The Secure Internet application disproportionally limits fundamental rights and freedoms. For this reason, the regulation lacks a legal basis.

- The "Principles and Procedures for Safe Internet Service" is a regulatory administrative process that will affect millions of people. The BTK unlawfully regulated an area which is not regulated by law by an administrative procedure. The BTK is not entitled to issue such a decision.

- The regulation could only be rendered legal if it were published in the Official Gazette. Therefore, a regulation that is not published in the Official Gazette should be cancelled.

- Contrary to what was said, the BTK regulation does not apply on a voluntary basis. The internet service providers will not be able to refuse the lists (white and black lists) presented by the administration. They will not be able to avoid the establishment of a corresponding infrastructure. By using the privileges of public power and by exceeding its authority, the BTK put forth a regulation that affects millions of people.

- The "Committee on Criteria for a Child and Family Profile" is being presented in the regulation as a positive development whereas it is not defined by any law. The members of the committee are appointed by the Ministry and the Institution without regard to any criterion.

- The committee's working methods and issues like personal rights of its members have not been regulated under the Procedures and Principles. It is not possible for such a committee to do independent and unbiased work without succumbing to pressure.

In April, the IPS Communication Foundation/BIANET applied to the Council of State to lift the censorship imposed on all internet users in Turkey as a result of the compulsory internet filtering system that was initially going to be enforced on 22 August. The Council of State dismissed BIANET's request to stall the application on the grounds of changes in the regulation.
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