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Telecommunications authority accused of concealing information on blocked websites

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders supports the legal action that Yaman Akdeniz, an Internet law professor at Istanbul's Bilgi University, has brought against the High Council for Telecommunications (TIB) for failing to provide figures for the number of websites censored since May 2009. Akdeniz has filed his complaint before an administrative court under Law 4982 on the right to information.

"More transparency from the authorities about website blocking is essential," Reporters Without Borders said. "The TIB provides information about the content on the blocked websites but omits the most important information, the number of websites that have been blocked. This deliberate lack of transparency is disturbing and we call on the authorities to reveal and explain the scale of the current censorship."

The number of websites that had been blocked under Law 5651 on cyber-crime was 433 in May 2008. A year later, the number of blocked websites had risen to 2,601. But the TIB has not released any figures for blocked websites since then. The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) puts the number of websites blocked for arbitrary and political reasons at 3,700.

The blocking of some websites, especially YouTube in May 2008, has been the subject of major protests in the blogosphere and the traditional media. The Ankara-based Association of Internet Technologies has filed a complaint about website blocking before the European Court of Human Rights, accusing the Turkish authorities of violating freedom of expression.

On 11 March 2010, Turkey was added to the list of "countries under surveillance" by Reporters Without Borders because of their Internet policies. The list is released each year at the same time as the list of "Enemies of the Internet".

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