Court Strips Internet Outhority of Right to Close Websites

Turkish  Constitutional Court has ruled as “unconstitutional” the Telecommunications Directorate’s (TİB) authority to close websites within four hours on the basis of national security, protecting public order, or preventing crime.

The extraordinary authority was granted to the TİB after an amendment to the Internet Law was passed at Parliament on Sept. 10, sparking protests from Internet rights groups.

The latest Constitutional Court order is also binding for all sites already closed down due to the same law.

The main opposition Republican People’s Party had appealed to the Constitutional Court on Sept. 15 to annul the changes, arguing that they further restricted Internet use in Turkey and increased the government’s control of web traffic.

The restrictions had drawn reactions from Turkey’s opposition and international organizations, who voiced concerns that freedom of expression and the right to freely communicate in private would be imperiled.

The changes also authorized the TİB to store data in-house and to turn over data to relevant institutions upon a court decision, sparking concerns that Internet surfing would come under the full-time surveillance of the government.

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