04 Apr 2018

AptiRo, EFN & Alternatif Bilisim: Digital rights around Europe


Alternative Informatics Association (Alternatif Bilisim)

The Internet Ungovernance Forum, co-organised by the Turkish EDRi member Alternative Informatics Association (Alternatif Bilişim)  was a collective victory in many ways. Held in parallel with the controversial Internet Governance Forum in Istanbul in September 2014, it had symbolic value for Internet freedoms, giving inspiring input with contributions from celebrity technologists as well as renowned experts.

Association for Technology and Internet (ApTI)

Romanian EDRi member Association for technology and Internet (ApTI) led public debates regrading controversial proposals from the Romanian government and the Romanian Intelligence Agency (SRI) regarding the right to privacy. The public debates and actions led to four decisions in the past ten years by the Romanian Constitutional Court that agreed with the organisation’s position.

Electronic Frontier Norway (EFN)

The Norwegian EDRi member Electronic Frontier Norway (EFN) made its breakthrough in national media around 2001-2002 thanks to the “DVD Jon” court case. Jon Lech Johansen was sued and arrested for decrypting a DVD copy control system to view DVDs on the Linux operating system and for writing the programme that enabled the availability on the internet. EFN advocated for his acquittal and full redress.

2015 Internet Report on Turkey released (24.02.2016.) https://edri.org/2015-internet-report-on-turkey-released/

New data protection law in Turkey (20.04.2016.) https://edri.org/new-data-protection-law-in-turkey/

State of emergency worsens digital crackdown in Turkey (16.11.2016) https://edri.org/state-of-emergency-worsens-digital-crackdown-in-turkey/

Icing on the cake: Romanian cybersecurity law unconstitutional (28.01.2015.) https://edri.org/romanian-cybersecurity-law-declared-unconstitutional/

Romania: After PNR, a proposal for retention of tourist data (09.09.2015.) https://edri.org/romania-after-pnr-a-proposal-for-retention-of-tourist-data/

Romania: Culture Ministry rallies copyright lobbyists (24.01.2018.) https://edri.org/romania-culture-ministry-rallies-copyright-lobbyists/

Norway: no more court cases for DVD-Jon (15.01.2004.) https://edri.org/edrigramnumber2-1dvdjon/

Member Spotlight: Electronic Frontier Norway (23.08.2017.) https://edri.org/member-spotlight-electronic-frontier-norway/




16 Nov 2016

State of emergency worsens digital crackdown in Turkey

By Guest author

According to a new report by Freedom House, web freedom across the globe declined for the sixth consecutive year. Turkey placed among the red-flag states in terms of web freedom in 2015-2016 and is now rated “not free” in “Freedom on the net 2016” report after repeated blocking of social media. The country’s status score is “61/100 not free” with 13/25 for obstacles to access, 21/35 for limits on content and 27/40 for violations of user rights.


Turkey entered a state of emergency on 21 July 2016, and this will remain until 21 January 2017, if no further extensions are made by the government. Along with unprecedented attacks on media pluralism and prosecution of journalists, writers, academics and public servants after failed coup attempt, internet restrictions continue at an alarming rate in the country.

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Tensions heightened in the country following general elections in June and November of 2015 and a series of deadly terrorist attacks. Gag orders on the dissemination of images and videos of the bombings were introduced by the authorities, resulting in the blocking of hundreds of websites – over 100 000 websites were reportedly blocked as of 2016. Gag order blocking continues to increase, affecting a wide variety of political, social, and religious content. Access to Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube was repeatedly throttled until the companies removed controversial content. Specific hashtags related to the bombing locations, like #Istanbul, #Ankara, and #Diyarbakir, were temporarily filtered from Instagram. Counterterrorism operations in the southeastern region of the country repeatedly resulted in the suspension of 3G networks, affecting millions of residents for days at a time. The most significant obstacle to internet access in Turkey remains the shutting down of telecommunications networks during security operations, mainly in the southeastern part of the country. These internet shutdowns are obvious violations of the right to information and access at a moment when internet access is of huge importance to individuals. Dozens of news agencies, media outlets and social media accounts covering Kurdish issues have been either blocked or shut down for allegedly promoting terrorist propaganda over the past year.

The most recent social media blockage that also included virtual private network (VPN) restrictions occurred starting on 4 November. Alternative Informatics Association (Alternatif Bilisim) released an emergency notice for further dissemination and international coverage. This strategic operation was also planned at a specific time when detainment and arrest of dissident politicians took place in southeast Turkey.

Turkey is consistently featured among the countries with the highest number of removal requests sent to Twitter. Of all of the tweets “withheld” by Twitter around the world in the second half of 2015, Turkey accounted for almost 90 percent. According to Transparency Report, requests from courts and government agencies reached 2211 and rose to 2493 in the first half of 2016. In each reporting period, Twitter indicated it complied in 23 percent of cases. Twitter did file a court case after being fined by the Turkish information and communications technology authority (BTK) for failing to remove “terrorist propaganda”. Over the past year, hundreds of Twitter users faced charges of insulting government officials, defaming President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, or sharing propaganda in support of terrorist organisations. In some cases, individuals, mostly journalists have been imprisoned.

Privacy and data protection is also a sensitive issue in Turkey. Even though a new data protection law has been adopted, how this law will be implemented still remains a mystery with the dismissal of the Turkish Telecommunications Authority (TIB) and transfer of all authority to BTK. The Alternative Informatics Association issued a press release on the massive data leak in March 2016, including the addresses, identity numbers, and other personal information of almost 50 million Turkish citizens. Binali Yildirim, Transport and Communication Minister at the time, admitted that the breach appeared to date back to at least 2010. An expert stated that the data was taken from the government’s official Population Governance Central Database (MERNIS) around 2009 and later illegally sold to foreclosure firms.

Active internet users and developers in Turkey were alarmed and shocked on 9 October 2016 when cloud storage services including Google Drive, Dropbox and Microsoft’s OneDrive as well as code hosting service GitHub were blocked by the government to suppress the leak of emails belonging to the Minister of Energy and Natural Resources Berat Albayrak, who is the son-in-law of President Erdogan. The ban was lifted after 48 hours following the public protest and pressure by prominent actors of the digital market.

Digital surveillance and cyber security measures are also worrisome for netizens in Turkey. Before the passage of the Homeland Security Act in March 2015, the law allowed Turkish security forces to conduct intelligence wiretapping for 24 hours in urgent situations without a court order. With the new law, the time limit was increased to 48 hours; the new requirement is that wiretapping officials notify their superiors. In addition, the Ankara High Criminal Court is solely authorised to decide whether the wiretapping is legitimate. It is necessary to mention that despite constitutional guarantees, most forms of telecommunication continue to be tapped and intercepted.

With social media purported as a threat to national security, intrusive government surveillance and the proven use of sophisticated malware tools by law enforcement authority, internet freedom is on a very negative course in Turkey.

Freedom on the net 2016: Silencing the messenger: Communication apps under pressure

Freedom on the net 2016: Turkey, country profile

To no one’s surprise, Erdogan backs extending Turkey’s state of emergency (29.09.2016)

New internet shutdown in Turkey’s Southeast: 8% of country now offline amidst Diyarbakir unrest (27.10.2016)

Emergency notice: Internet blockages in Turkey

Transparency report: Turkey

Twitter sues Turkey over ‘terror propaganda’ fine

Journalist detained in Turkey over tweets

Turkey blocks Google Drive, Dropbox, OneDrive and GitHub to stop email leaks

National Security Council under Erdoğan updates top secret national security “book”

EDRi: Turkey: “The worst menace to society” helps to defeat the coup

(Contribution by Asli Telli Aydemir, EDRi member Alternative Informatics Association, Turkey)



15 Jul 2015

Remembering Özgür Uçkan

By Guest author

Özgür Uçkan, one of the pioneers of the digital rights and free Internet movement in Turkey, passed away on 10 July. He was 54 years old, and had been battling with cancer for two years.

He was one of the founders of the Turkish EDRi member Alternative Informatics Association (AIA) and his contribution to the AIA and to the struggle against surveillance and censorship in Turkey was enormous. He held the post of the EDRi representativeness of AIA, but had to leave this post due to his illness.

Özgür was an multi-faceted person and successfully combined activism with his academic life and art criticism. He was a well-known personality in Turkey who frequently appeared in conferences and media.

He will be dearly missed.

Özgür Uçkan

Dr. Özgür Uçkan passed away (only in Turkish)

(Contribution by Melih Kirlidog, EDRi member Alternatif Bilisim, Turkey)



10 Sep 2014

Internet Governance Forum and Internet Ungovernance Forum

By Guest author

The ninth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) was held in Istanbul, Turkey, on 2-5 September. EDRi member Alternative Informatics Association (AIA) submitted four proposals to the IGF, but all of them were rejected. As a result, AIA decided to organise a parallel event, the Internet Ungovernance Forum (IUF). The IUF attracted considerable interest among Internet researchers and activists who wished to address urgent issues, such as censorship and surveillance, in a more inclusive manner.

AIA also participated in the IGF with a booth, and spoke at some workshops. Delegates at the IGF were able to enjoy something that Turkish citizens outside can only dream of – an open and uncensored access to the internet. Turkey blocks approximately 51,000 domains .

Janis Karklins, the head of the Multistakeholder Advisory Group in the IGF contacted the AIA and requested a meeting in the IUF where he was prepared to answer “hard questions.” Despite criticism, he insisted during the meeting that the IGF is an inclusive platform where all stakeholders can participate and the selection criteria is transparent.

Edward Snowden was to deliver the closing speech by video conference in the IUF which he had to cancel last minute due to technical problems. However, he submitted a written statement.

“In an ideal world, governments would respect the free speech rights of their citizens enough to not filter their Internet communications,” he said in his message. “Sadly, we do not yet live in that world. Perhaps in time, governments will realize that the serious cybersecurity and foreign-surveillance threats posed by censorship equipment outweigh whatever supposed benefits of national stability and control that they bring,” he concluded.

Julian Assange agreed to deliver the closing speech in Snowden’s stead. He answered questions from the audience and drew attention to the strategic relationship and data transfers between the NSA and Google.

Next year the IGF will be held in Brazil. AIA plans to contact fellow NGOs in Brazil to discuss the opportunities for jointly organising or supporting a side event during the IGF – as Internet Governance remains to be an extremely important but a neglected area among those who strive for a free Internet.

Statement to Internet Ungovernance Forum by Edward Snowden (05.09.2014)

Protecting the open internet: the Internet Governance Forum in Turkey (05.09.2014)

UN Internet Governance Forum sees new challengers, from top down and bottom up (08.09.2014)

The Not-Mundial Initiative: Governance and Ungovernance in Istanbul (29.08.2014)

Internet nation? (05.09.2014)

Internet Governance Forum and Internet Ungovernance Forum (only in Turkish, 05.09.2014)

EDRi: Internet Ungovernance Forum – civil society counterbalance to IGF (27.08.2014)

(Contribution by Melih Kirlidog, EDRi member Alternatif Bilisim, Turkey)



27 Aug 2014

Internet Ungovernance Forum – civil society counterbalance to IGF

By Guest author

The ninth Internet Governance Forum (IGF) will be held on 2-5 September 2014 in Istanbul, with the theme “Connecting Continents for Enhanced Multistakeholder Internet Governance”. Although civil society and activists who are fighting for a free Internet are reassembled in the IGF meetings, governments and corporations have a much larger representation. As an attempt to shift the balance towards the civil society, The local Turkish EDRi member Alternative Informatics Association will therefore be organising an Internet Ungovernance Forum (IUF) on 4-5 September, to discuss the problems facing the free and open Internet in an open and non-hierarchical atmosphere that is in line with the spirit of Internet.

The main focus of the event will be censorship and surveillance issues, along with the measures to circumvent them. In addition to the panel discussions, there will also be a workshop concentrating on the Internet governance with the participation of Milton Mueller, Professor at Syracuse University School of Information Studies, USA, and other specialists working in this area. The workshop will aim to shed light on:the complicated and overlapping institutions that claim to be working on Internet governance, how activists concerned with local censorship and surveillance fit into these global structures, and how the IGF, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN), the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF), the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the Commission on Science and Technology for Development (CSTD), and Netmundial are relevant to our collective activities.

Internet Ungovernance Forum

Governance or Ungovernance – A strategy workshop for Internet activists

Internet Governance Forum

(Contribution by Melih Kirlidog, EDRi member Alternatif Bilisim, Turkey)