The Albanian Media Council has issued a statement of concern regarding recent action taken by AKEP in Albania.
During the last week, AKEP has instructed internet service providers to block access to Medium.com community blogging site. Albania now joins China, Egypt and Malaysia in blocking the site. The AMC calls this “pure censorship, anti-legal and anti-constitutional”.
The AMC notes that Medium is a blog where millions of articles are published with thousands added each day. The majority of ISPs have blocked access to the site, while some are still yet to do so.
According to the AMC statement, the reason access to Medium was blocked was due to a complaint to AMA by Albanian actor Ermal Mamaqi. Apparently some posts on Medium included links to pirated versions of his films.
Shutting down access to the entire Medium site is not legal and is a form of censorship. The AMC used the following example:
“If someone posts on Facebook a list of pirated sites, this does not mean that the Albanian government should shut down Facebook. Moreover, Medium.com has a page where it is clearly possible to report copyright infringement or plagiarism…”
The AMC also highlighted the action undertaken by AKEP that resulted in the blocking of a number of pornography sites. A well known Albanian woman found that a video of her engaging in sexual acts had been posted on a number of porn sites as an act of “revenge porn”. While AMC condemns the illegal act, it states that the government does not have the right to block the entire domain.
The Council has raised concerns that while the controversial “anti-defamation” law is not in force yet, the AKEP and AMA are acting as if it is. The laws would give both entities the power to block sites without the need for a court order.
AMC has called on international bodies to intervene in such censorship matters and for partner media to report heavily on the issue. It also asks Albanian citizens to react strongly to actions that restrict their right to information in an illegal and anti-constitutional way.