I'll be the first to admit it. I am shocked- happily surprised- by the latest news coming out about the plans to apply Internet filters. It would appear that the Turkish government is pulling back from this crazy plan. Could it really be possible that sensible minds prevailed?
ISTANBUL—Turkey is stepping back from plans to toughen Internet censorship and will make it harder to ban access to websites, after the announcement of harsh new Internet laws triggered street protests and international criticism.
A plan to require Turkish Internet users to choose one of four state-mandated browsing filters starting this month has been scrapped, said Serhat Ozeren, head of the Internet Board at the Ministry of Transport and Communications, in an interview on Friday.
Instead, the government will roll out just two content filters—called Child and Family—for users who apply to use them. Users who don't apply will continue to have unfiltered access to available websites, according to the text of a new bylaw that replaced the previous plan on Thursday. The two filters should become available in November, the bylaw says.
The Internet Board, which is responsible for developing Internet policy and advising the ministry, is also drafting legal amendments that would limit the right of courts around the country to order websites blocked, Mr. Ozeren said.
Currently, any court can do so, under Turkey's law on internet crimes. An estimated 8,000 websites are now blocked in Turkey, according to an official familiar with the government's Internet policy.
When I asked a friend of mine what he thought, he said, "Hmm, we'll see." Waiting for the other shoe to drop, I suppose.
I personally am glad to see that somebody was listening to wise counsel on this matter. In the end, restrictions of this kind never work as intended and usually lead to a lot of confusion. Even the announcement of the plan to implement the filtering system seemed poorly handled.
If the Turkish ruling party is serious about bringing greater democracy to this country, then surely applying filters and arbitrarily closing websites would seem to be a step backwards.