Don't use "crispy" on the Turkish Internet!

By EDRi · May 4, 2011

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Deutsch: [Sag niemals “knusprig” im türkischen Internet! |]

The Turkish Telecommunication Communication Presidency (TIB) has reached an
unprecedented level of censorship by recently banning 138 words and terms
from the Internet, many of which being simple, every-day words.

On 28 April 2011, TIB sent a notification to all service providers and
hosting companies in Turkey with the list of banned words and terms that
included words like “animal”, “sister-in-law”, “crispy”, “confession”,
“breath”, “hot”, “adult” or “local”, placing thus sites of supermarkets,
restaurants, food home delivery, football supporters’ clubs and others in

“Providing a list and urging companies to take action to ban sites that
contain the words and threatening to punish them if they don’t has no legal
grounds,” stated Yaman Akdeniz, a cyber-rights activist and a law professor
at Istanbul Bilgi University, in a phone interview for the Hürriyet Daily
News & Economic Review.

Akdeniz required information and documents from TIB on several issues in
relation to the list, arguing that such documents were of public interest
according to Article 1 of Law No. 4982 that stipulates “the right to
information according to the principles of equality, impartiality and
openness that are the necessities of a democratic and transparent

Based on Article 5 of the law, “the hosting company is not responsible for
controlling the content of the websites it provides domains to or
researching/exploring on whether there is any illegal activity or not. They
are responsible for removing illegal content when they are informed and
there is the technical possibility of doing so”, said the expert.

Following the strong reaction against TIB’s action, the authority said the
list had been sent to hosting firms for informatory purposes. However, the
notification letter said the authority would punish companies for not
following its directions to ban domains containing “forbidden words,”
without specifying what kind of punishment it meant.

Devrim Demirel, founder and chief executive officer of BerilTech, said he
had received TIB’s letter via an email, which, in his opinion, was neither
ethical nor secure. “Requests with such important implications should be
sent officially to each company’s office address, with the respective seal
and signatures,” said Demirel who also believes that “banning access to
websites is in itself a censoring service.”

Moreover, Demirel warned about the negative technical implications and
expressed his opinion that “the TIB personnel who worked on the issues
related to banning access are not endowed with the necessary technical
knowledge and skills.”

The financial implications should be considered as well. Banning access to
certain domains that include the black-listed terms might lead to financial
losses. “There is no guarantee in the existing related legislation that I
will not be asked to compensate the company in such a case,” said Demirel.
Pushing things even further, the list does not include only Turkish terms
but also English words because of their meanings in Turkish, such as “pic,”
short for picture, which is banned because it means “bastard” in Turkish or
the past tense of the verb “get” because “got” means “butt” in Turkish.

138 Words Banned from the Internet (29.04.2011)

TIB’s ‘forbidden words list’ inconsistent with law, say Turkish web
providers (29.04.2011)

EDRi-gram: Turkey adds popular blogging platform to blocking list