Turkey revokes Wikipedia ban after court ruling

The Wikipedia ban in Turkey has been put in place since 2017. (File/AFP)
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Updated 16 January 2020

Turkey revokes Wikipedia ban after court ruling

  • The ruling was passed by a 10-to-six majority in the country’s top court
  • The ban was placed due to entries that accused Turkey of having links to terrorist organizations

ANKARA: Turkey has lifted its long-time ban on Wikipedia following a ruling by the Constitutional Court that defined it as a violation of freedom of expression.

The ban was put in place in April 2017 over some entries that the government disagreed with, especially accusations that Turkey was cooperating with terrorist groups.

When the court notifies the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) of its verdict, the ban will be totally removed.

The ruling was passed by a 10-to-six majority in the country’s top court where Wikimedia Foundation, the nonprofit organization hosting Wikipedia, had applied to revoke the ban.

The foundation also applied to the European Court of Human Rights, where the trial has been ongoing since last year.

Shutting down Wikipedia was an unfair decision ... we don’t have any legal guarantee that they won’t ban this website again in the future.

Isik Mater, a digital rights activist

Isik Mater, a digital rights activist and research director at the NetBlocks monitoring group, told Arab News: “Shutting down Wikipedia was an unfair decision. There are even six members of the Constitutional Court who claimed that it wasn’t a violation of freedom of expression. In that case, we don’t have any legal guarantee that they won’t ban this website again in the future.”

Gonenc Gurkaynak, the Turkish lawyer for Wikipedia, tweeted that the country “needs more freedom of expression.”

Some 127,000 websites and 95,000 individual web pages are currently banned in Turkey, where social media sites such as YouTube, Facebook and Twitter have faced temporary bans, especially after popular protests or terrorist acts.


Google to publish user location data to help governments tackle virus

Updated 03 April 2020

Google to publish user location data to help governments tackle virus

  • The reports on users’ movements in 131 countries will be made available on a special website and will “chart movement trends over time by geography”
  • Trends will display “a percentage point increase or decrease in visits” to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work, not “the absolute number of visits”

PARIS: Google says it will publish users’ location data around the world from Friday to allow governments to gauge the effectiveness of social distancing measures, brought in to stem the COVID-19 pandemic.
The reports on users’ movements in 131 countries will be made available on a special website and will “chart movement trends over time by geography,” according to a post on one of Google’s blogs.
Trends will display “a percentage point increase or decrease in visits” to locations like parks, shops, homes and places of work, not “the absolute number of visits,” said the post, signed by Jen Fitzpatrick, who leads Google Maps, and the company’s chief health officer Karen DeSalvo.
For example, in France, visits to restaurants, cafes, shopping centers, museums or theme parks have plunged by 88 percent from their normal levels, the data showed.
Local shops initially saw a jump of 40 percent when confinement measures where announced, before suffering a drop of 72 percent.
Office use is possibly stronger than suspected meanwhile, as the decline in that area is a more modest 56 percent.
“We hope these reports will help support decisions about how to manage the COVID-19 pandemic,” the Google execs said.
“This information could help officials understand changes in essential trips that can shape recommendations on business hours or inform delivery service offerings.”
Like the detection of traffic jams or traffic measurement Google Maps, the new reports will use “aggregated, anonymised” data from users who have activated their location history.
No “personally identifiable information,” such as an individual’s location, contacts or movements, will be made available, the post said.
The reports will also employ a statistical technique that adds “artificial noise” to raw data, making it harder for users to be identified.
From China to Singapore to Israel, governments have ordered electronic monitoring of their citizens’ movements in an effort to limit the spread of the virus, which has infected more than a million people and killed over 50,000 worldwide.
In Europe and the United States, technology firms have begun sharing “anonymised” smartphone data to better track the outbreak.
Even privacy-loving Germany is considering using a smartphone app to help manage the spread of the disease.
But activists say authoritarian regimes are using the coronavirus as a pretext to suppress independent speech and increase surveillance.
In liberal democracies, others fear widespread data harvesting and intrusion could bring lasting harm to privacy and digital rights.