Turkey’s Constitutional Court on Wednesday annulled a controversial article of law that authorized the government to remove or restrict access to online content on the grounds that it “violates personal rights,” Turkish Minute reported, citing the Artı Gerçek news website.
Article 9 of Law No. 5651, often criticized for its broad and ambiguous language, has been a tool for the government to suppress internet journalism by citing personal rights violations.
According to Turkish media reports, the top court found that the power granted to Turkey’s Telecommunications Authority (BTK) to unilaterally remove content or block access was unconstitutional. The ruling also emphasized that such restrictions on content significantly infringed upon the fundamental freedoms of expression and the press.
The decision will take effect in nine months, raising concerns among legal experts and activists.
Prof. Dr. Yaman Akdeniz, a prominent figure in internet freedom advocacy, pointed out the potential for continued censorship during the upcoming local elections, cautioning that the government might introduce even more stringent laws after the elections take place.
Reports by the Freedom of Expression Association (İFÖD) reveal that hundreds of thousands of websites and online content have been blocked in Turkey in recent years, under the guise of protecting personal rights.
Turkey, where internet freedom has steadily declined over the past decade, ranks among the “not free” countries concerning online freedoms, according to a report released by the US-based nonprofit Freedom House in October.