Council of Europe (CoE) Commissioner for Human Rights Nils Muiznieks has reiterated his concerns on the Turkish government’s attempt to ban certain social media outlets, describing the move as futile and calling on Turkish authorities to resolve the issue in line with European standards, reports Today’s Zaman.
The Gölbaşı Criminal Court of Peace blocked nationwide access to YouTube in a ruling on March 27, but it reversed its ruling on April 4 following an appeal. However, despite the court decision, the Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) insisted on blocking the entire website.
“Blocking an entire social media platform, as Turkey has [done] with YouTube and Twitter, is clearly a disproportionate response. If there is illegal content — perhaps content that violates the right to private life or other types of illegal content — it can be blocked, subject to a court ruling,” he said.
In a recording published on YouTube that reportedly led to the site being banned, Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoğlu, National Intelligence Organization (MİT) Undersecretary Hakan Fidan, Foreign Ministry Undersecretary Feridun Sinirlioğlu and Deputy Chief of General Staff Gen. Yaşar Güler can be heard discussing a possible intervention in Syria and potential responses from the international community.
Turkey’s restrictions on freedom of expression and access to social media have drawn the ire of European officials.
German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier has said Turkey must not only respect European Union norms but also abide by them and that blocking websites will not help the nation’s EU accession process, a German media outlet reported on April 5.
“The accession process also means not just respecting European values, but putting them into practice in the respective country as well,” the Deutsche Welle broadcasting service reported Steinmeier as saying after an informal meeting of EU ministers in Athens on Saturday. “This cannot be reconciled at all with blocking Internet information and restricting freedom of opinion and of the press,” he said.
Concerns about Internet freedoms sprung up in February, when Parliament passed a controversial law granting the government’s Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) the power to block any website, without permission from a court, for privacy violations. The European Commission (EC) and the European Parliament (EP) criticized the Internet law in separate statements, saying it raised concerns that the government was tightening its grip on access to the Internet and information.