New Internet filtering system available after 3-month test period

New Internet filtering system available after 3-month test period

November 21, 2011, Monday/ 16:12:00/ TODAY'S ZAMAN

An optional Internet safety scheme adopted by the Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) to protect children and young people from harmful content on the Internet will be available from Tuesday following a three-month test period that started on Aug. 22 in several provinces.

Parents who want to prevent their children from accessing inappropriate websites that may harm them psychologically or socially can apply to the BTK for the new filtering system, which will give them access to a safer Internet at no extra cost. Those who apply for the filtering system will be asked to pick from one of three available categories: children, family and domestic. Those who do not apply for the new system can continue using the current system as usual.

The BTK will issue a new user name and password that will enable subscribers to access their chosen filtering system, but users who want to stop using Internet filtering can switch to a standard profile, which has no filters.

There has been some criticism about the new scheme titled “Procedures and Principles Regarding the Safe Use of the Internet,” since it was first introduced, and it has been feared that the new filtering system will bring censorship to the Internet. Some people have argued that this regulation would place Turkey among the world's top Internet censoring countries.

BTK President Tayfun Acarer said at a press conference on May 5 in response to the reaction against the filtering system that Internet users in Turkey would not be obliged to choose one of the filtering options proposed in the new scheme. He added that this project had come about on the demands of many users. The BTK drafted the Internet filtering plan after negotiating with many Internet service providers. Dismissing the claims of critics who have asserted that with this scheme the government will have access to individual web-user data, Acarer said there were close to 9.5 million Internet subscribers and around 40 million Internet users in Turkey. “We do not have the authority to monitor these individuals. How can we control such a database?” he added.

Meanwhile, according to a claim by the USA Today daily, one of the most popular social networking sites, Facebook, keeps a record of its users' last 90 days of activities and removes entries older this. In response to the USA Today's claims, Facebook released a statement acknowledging that they do follow Facebook users' activities, but denied that they kept records. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), an international non-profit digital rights advocacy and legal organization based in the United States, also released a statement regarding USA Today's claims and said that if the claims are found to be true, legal action should be taken against Facebook as it will be in violation of Internet users' privacy rights. 

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