Literature Review

What are the intended effects of Law No. 5651 in Turkey?

According to researchers Akedeniz and Altiparmak, Law No. 5651 is not a cybercrime law. Rather, it seeks to make current criminal procedures more effective. [1] In other words, it attempts to add teeth to laws against things such as pornography, drugs, and other topics that will be discussed in this literature review.

Law No. 5651 is designed to prevent Turkish citizens from accessing websites that pertain to pornography, games of chance, soccer coverage, the gay community, terrorist organizations, and any content that criticizes high-ranking officials states Reporters Without Borders. [11]

Harriyet reports on the Turkish Prime Minister Binali Yilidirim’s position on the law. In 2008 he stated, “Law 5651 sees as appropriate the establishment of precautions against material that might hurt children, youth and families. If these precautions are not enough, then the law sees a Website ban as necessary.” He also, somewhat contradicted himself later in the article by adding that the intentions behind the law are not to ban websites but to “encourage the appropriate use of the Internet for the betterment of society.” [13]

In a second Reporters Without Borders article, they delve into the Turkish government’s somewhat muddled explanation of a 2011 addendum to Law No. 5651: the banning of key words. Reporters Without Borders claims that while the language in the directive is intentionally vague, it states “access to websites containing words on the list would in theory be suspended and it would be impossible to create new ones containing them.” [7]

An ethnographic study published in the Observario Journal observed the huge popularity of Internet cafes in Turkey. Interestingly, another effect of Law No. 5651 is the way the Internet here must be regulated and even filtered. (The government offers three non-mandatory separate filters that block certain sites for children and the like.) There are 24-hour surveillance cameras at the cafes as a result of enforcing Law No. 5651 as well. [10] In a study by Akedeniz and Altiparmak, they examined Article 7 of Law No. 5651, which regulates these Internet cafes. Article 7 states cafe owners are required to obtain licenses, the aforementioned filters, and even track the collection and integrity of data on their cafe computers daily. If cafe owners fail to do this, they risk being fined. [1]

What are the actual effects of Law No. 5651 in Turkey?

The literature suggests that entire sites are being shut down by the Turkish government. At the time of a 2008 article on BIANET, these sites included YouTube, GeoCities, and DailyMotion. [6]

Many people view Law No. 5651 as a violation of Turkish citizens’ rights, causing outrage over the law and its restrictions. ¬†According to the Cihan News Agency, the European Court on Human Rights has declared that Turkish Law No. 5651 is a violation of freedom of expression, and fined Turkey for the violation of the European Convention on Human Rights. [4] BIANET reported along similar lines that the OSCE, or Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe, has also released statements denouncing the law: “The [Turkish] government should keep their hands off media contents within the scope of freedom of expression, regardless of Kemalist, religious or national contexts.” [5]

According to a Turkish scholar, another effect of the law is that criminals who are partaking in the crimes the ban seeks to eliminate are left unpunished, while innocent citizens are punished by being restricted access to information. It is obvious that citizens are fed up with the injustice, as a Hurriyet Daily News article reports over 1,000 people marched in Istanbul in 2010 after courts officially declared YouTube would be banned from the Turkish Internet. [12]

Citizens also fought back online, by hacking into TIB and The Scientific and Technological Research Council of Turkey and shutting their sites down for 10 hours, in addition to other online protest campaigns, Reporters Without Borders reports. [10]


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