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412 INTERNET SITES AND BLOGS PROTEST CENSORSHIP

Website owners and users in Turkey got so fed up with Internet censorship that they censored themselves in protest in August. IPS Communication Foundation (BIANET) reported that 412
sites and blogs protested against online censorship and court-ordered bans, darkening their pages to alert authorities and the public to their plight.
The campaign was launched by ElmaaltShift.com after some of its content was lost when the video sharing sites YouTube.com and DailyMotion.com were banned. It was supported by university and legal worker sites, BIANET said. The "Access To This Site Is Denied By Its Own Decision" campaign warned that if the government and courts continue banning sites, Internet publishing would have a dark future.

In the last year, other barred websites have included Eksi Sözlük, Wordpress, "Gündem" newspaper, Google Groups and Geocities. Perhaps as a result of the protest, BIANET said YouTube and DailyMotion had been restored by 25 August.

Another problem has been sabotage. The freedom of expression website www.antenna-tr.org of IFEX member the Initiative for Freedom of Expression (Antenna-TR), as well as the civil society website www.ortakpayda.org, were openly hacked on 24 July by a group with its own public website.

The hacker group "Atabeyler" proclaims loyalty to the secular-minded Kemal Ataturk historical figure, the victims discovered, but "a quick look at their website shows that they target websites whose ideas they do not like. What they are destroying here is the freedoms of sharing information and news." Antenna and Ortakpayda said that the hackers are technically sophisticated and well financed; Reporters Without Borders (RSF) described them as ultra-nationalist.

Visit these links:
- Access protest: http://tinyurl.com/5ga9as
- Global Voices: http://tinyurl.com/6npfop
- Youtube restored: http://tinyurl.com/5n5dlb
- Hacking: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95793/
- RSF: http://www.ifex.org/en/content/view/full/95930/
(Graphic courtesy of Istanbul Indymedia)

(27 August 2008)

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