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    What is the link between the inability to walk with a stroller and Internet bans?

    Güven Sak, PhD14 February 2014 - Okunma Sayısı: 1185

    No one has thought just for ten minutes with a holistic perspective what it is like for children to grow up in Ankara.

    What is the link between not being able to walk in Ankara with a stroller and the latest regulation that gives the state unlimited discretion about Internet control? This question came to mind when I was reading the awkward law package the other day. I saw a close link between them. I am concerned with form rather than content today. I believe that this method does not allow a healthy legislation process and the parliament to use its legislative powers. I recommend that you read the law. Why can’t you walk safely with a stroller in Ankara? Because you cannot know what kind of a surprise is waiting for you when you turn the corner, thanks to the “parcel-based planning” invented by Ankara Mayor Melih Gökçek. A sidewalk might be replaced with a crossroad, for instance. No one has thought just for ten minutes with a holistic perspective what it is like for children to grow up in Ankara. I have come to the point that the latest package law is legislation as much as Melih Bey’s parcel-based planning is planning. I just don’t like this package law thing. Let me tell you why.

    As it was a trending topic in Turkey, I wanted to download the draft law on Internet bans, but I couldn’t find the document on the Parliament’s webpage. I asked for help and learned that I had to search through the Draft Law on the Amendment of the Decrees Concerning the Organization and the Authorities of the Ministry of Family and Social Policy and of Some Decrees. The draft law has 126 articles. Those between 85 and 100 foresee a series of amendments to Law No. 5651 on Regulating Broadcasting on the Internet and Fighting Crime Committed through Internet Broadcasting. It was a big challenge to access the sixteen articles hidden among a bunch of other issues. This is the first point.

    Now let me tell you what I saw. First, I perfectly understand why package laws are preferred. Let’s skip the content for a moment. Article 92 of the law, for instance, says: “the sentence ‘……’ was added subsequent to the statement ‘……’ on the second sentence of article 8 of Law No. 5651; the statement ‘…….’ in the fourth sentence was omitted, and the statement ‘……’ in the same sentence was replaced with the statement, and the following sentence was added to the article.” What do you think? Awesome, right? The draft is like a poem of decontextualized excerpts. Could you please tell me how anyone can have a comprehensive debate on an issue defined as such? Isn’t this in a way the execution hijacking the Parliaments’ legislative powers? Turkey has to reorganize this method of law making immediately. The current practice will cause the same thing the parcel-based planning does. Ankara’s Çukurambar, a slum in the middle of the city that underwent urban transformation in the last decade, is a good example of this planning practice.

    Çukurambar has 20-floor buildings on one parcel and 5-floor ones on the adjacent parcel. The former requires an 8-meter road width to relieve traffic whereas a 4-meter width is enough for the latter. At the end of the day, “parcel-based planning” only causes congestion and time waste in the way that law packages makes legislation dysfunctional. This is the second point.

    Do you think the sub-committees of the parliament have negotiated the package law thoroughly?  Here are the figures:  the critical articles of the Internet regulation was first negotiated for an entire day by the Family, Labor, and Social Affairs Committee. Later, the Planning and Budget Committee carried out a two-day discussion on the entire package law. And finally, a one-day negotiation was held at the Board of Labor. It has been, if you buy it. So let me repeat: Turkey has to review its law-making techniques and adoption procedures. This is the third point.

    By the way, here is another piece of information about the content of the draft law: the sixteen hard-to-understand articles on the Internet mention the word “ban” 35 times. The regulation essentially means that the administration, which mistrusts the court system, is increasing its discretion about a particular issue without any limits. Turkey does not have an administrative procedures law that stipulates how the administration shall use its discretion and limits such discretion. Discretion without any limits is a source of corruption; small ones on the level of civil servants as well as big ones on that of politicians. It augurs bad. In this way, the Internet regulation gives unlimited discretionary power to the administration.

    This commentary was published in Radikal daily on 14.02.2014