The İstanbul 10th Penal Court of Peace mistakenly banned access for one day to the Google-owned Blogspot blogging service on Tuesday due to an error in the written decision, according to an expert on Internet law.
Lawyer and academic Yaman Akdeniz said the İstanbul court received an application to block bilgeadam-magdurlari.blogspot.com and ordered a block on access to the website; however, in the written decision the court failed to include the website’s URL correctly, causing a block on all blogs with the blogspot.com extension.
“Even if the lawyer who made the application wrote the wrong address, the court or [the watchdog that implements the court order] should have noticed the mistake,” Akdeniz tweeted.
After the mistake was corrected, access to Blogspot.com was reinstated.
The bilgeadam-magdurlari.blogspot.com (victims of Bilge Adam) blog was swamped with complaints from consumers who bought services from a company called Bilge Adam, which requested that the court block it.
Blogspot is particularly popular with personal bloggers and commercial content publishers in Turkey. Users note that it provides an important source of revenue for some of the country’s top bloggers and independent authors, offering an open and monetizable platform for the exchange of ideas and commentary online.
Turkish government has also banned Wikipedia in Turkey since late April 2017. Turkish Authorities claimed the ban was instituted when Wikipedia declined to take down content alleging that Turkey had provided support for alleged terrorist groups.
Access to platforms including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and WhatsApp have been periodically restricted in Turkey numerous times since 2014, particularly after tumultuous events like mass demonstrations, suicide bomb attacks, or the controversial coup attempt in July 2016. The Wikimedia Foundation’s efforts to restore access failed so far.
The Wikipedia block is part of a wider trend toward control of information online in Turkey. As Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan seeks to maintain his tight grip on power, he has also worked to curtail Internet freedom in Turkey.
The country had one of the three largest declines in Freedom House’s Freedom on the Net index last year due to the repeated suspension of telecommunications networks and social media access, as well as sweeping arrests for political speech online.
Turkey is ranked 157th among 180 countries in the 2018 World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders (RSF). If Turkey falls two more places, it will make it to the list of countries on the blacklist, which have the poorest record in press freedom.
Turkey is the biggest jailer of journalists in the world. The most recent figures documented by SCF show that 240 journalists and media workers were in jail as of July 24, 2018, most in pretrial detention. Of those in prison 179 were under arrest pending trial while only 61 journalists have been convicted and are serving their time. Detention warrants are outstanding for 144 journalists who are living in exile or remain at large in Turkey.
Detaining tens of thousands of people over alleged links to the Gülen movement, the government also closed down some 200 media outlets, including Kurdish news agencies and newspapers, after a coup attempt in Turkey on July 15, 2016.