138 Words Banned From the Turkish Internet

The latest development in a series of oppressive acts in Turkey is a simple list of words. These words, consisting of many everyday terms, phrases and even names, are being banned from the Turkish internet for reasons unclear to the population.

A notification was sent to all internet service providers in Turkey on April 28th containing one hundred and thirty-eight words and terms to be banned. The Telecommunication Communication Presidency forwarded this list without explanation as to why it includes many ordinary words that are essential for use in everyday life and conversations.

Names such as Adrianne and Haydar, along with words like hikaye, which means ‘story,’ were on this banned word list.

Associate Professor Yaman Akdeniz, who is a lecturer at a law university, sought out information from the Internet Department at the Telecommunication Communication Presidency. He asked why these words were all of a sudden forbidden and classified into three groups on the list. One particular question he asked them was why the two first names Adrianna and Haydar were on the list. He asked who they belonged to and why they were so important to ban.

He also demanded that the Telecommunication Communication Presidency send him the documents and related materials which spawned this list. Akdeniz said that it was a matter of public interest, something people needed to know. Answers were requested, but what answers would be given?

Apparently, the Telecommunication Communication Presidency had no legal basis for requesting this word ban, which includes primarily common words from ‘forbidden’ and ‘fire’ to ‘overweight’ and ‘sister-in-law’. What reasons could they possibly have for banning these words? After all, any words can be harmful or benign; it’s just a matter of phrasing. They might as well ban ‘human’ too, that is, if it isn’t already on the list.

Akdeniz says that they have no right to ban websites from using these words and threatening them if they don’t comply. With the risk of closing over ten thousand websites just because they use common words, how can there really be anything legal about this ban?

The Telecommunication Communication Presidency claimed that they did have legal justification for their request, but the law they referenced does not give them authority to ban websites in any way. They claimed later on in the tense debate that the list of banned words was mailed to internet companies with an informative purpose.

This only caused more confusion and didn’t answer many questions. It only fueled Akdeniz’ outrage, as they had sent a threatening letter along with the list to the internet firms, warning them not to disobey their instructions.

Even the hundreds of companies from abroad that have sites on the Turkish internet are panicking, including Google and Yahoo, who have many questions but still no answers. Although the Telecommunication Communication Presidency never said what they would do if the web providers didn’t ban websites containing banned words, it’s enough to make companies worried.

Devrim Demirel, CEO and founder of BerilTech, the leading internet and domain name company in Turkey, says that their requests were both unprofessional and inconsistent with internet laws. He also says that it seems like nothing was taken into consideration for the technical aspects of internet work, suggesting that those who made decisions for the list of banned words had no technical knowledge or skill. Banning domains and sites with the words on that list would cause massive losses that businesses would never recover from.

Demirel says that he even received the letter and list from the Telecommunication Communication Presidency via email, a dangerous and unsecure method of official communication. He says that it was not ethical or secure, and that it should have been mailed to his office with the necessary seals and signatures, not by electronic means. Anyone could have sent that email.

Demiral called banning these words a ‘censuring service’ that has left him scratching his head in confusion, along with everyone else.

Adding to the ridiculous nature of this banned words request from the Telecommunication Communication Presidency is the fact that websites will be closed even if a banned word is unintentionally written in the domain name. The website called, for example, would be shut down because it contains the word ‘animal,’ even though it translates to Even websites using certain numbers in domain names would be forbidden, such as the number 31, a euphemism for male masturbation. Even if the meaning is unintended and entirely innocent, the websites will still be shut down for use of anything on the banned words list.

Other English words that are also on the list include, but are not limited to, ‘escort,’ ‘homemade,’ ‘free,’ ‘nubile,’ ‘hot,’ ‘beat,’ and ‘teen.’ Apparently the common male name Haydar is on the list of banned words because it is also slang for penis.

Akdeniz and Demiral are just two of the many enraged Turkish people fighting for answers regarding this list of 138 words banned from the internet. It doesn’t make any sense besides as a pure form of censorship. The questions will not stop until there are sufficient answers.