The government of Turkey has reportedly just kicked off a Draconian crackdown on domain names that contain words relating to sex and pornography.
According to the Hürriyet Daily News, a local daily newspaper, the telecommunications authority today send a list of 138 banned strings, many of them English words, to Turkish web hosts.
If the report is to be believed, any web sites containing any of the banned words in the domain will be shut down, even if the offending string is caused by two unrelated words running together.
The affect of the decision could see the closure of many website that feature the banned words. For example, the website “donanimalemi.com” (hardwareworld.com) because the domain name has “animal” in it, a banned word and likewise “sanaldestekunitesi.com,” (virtualsupportunit.com) would not be able to operate under its current name because it has “anal” in it; also among the 138 banned words.
In addition to many Turkish and English words, apparently the number 31 is also verboten, because it is local slang for “masturbation”.
The report suggests that the ban affects domain names in .com, not just in Turkey’s .tr country-code domain, but that it only affects web hosts, rather than access providers or registrars.
If the report is accurate (a machine translation of this regulator press release, in Turkish, suggests that it may be), it may be the strangest piece of government domain censorship in the internet’s short history.
Thankfully, if it only applies to web hosts (rather than to ISPs and domain registrars) I can’t see it having much of an impact.
If you host in Turkey, I expect that switching to a foreign provider will in many cases be fairly straightforward.
If there are any Turkish speakers reading this who are able to shed light upon this bizarre story, please do get in touch.