News / Europe

Turkey's Crackdown on Internet a Matter of Politics

Police use a water cannon to try to disperse people protesting against newly proposed restrictions on the use of the internet and against the Turkish government during a protest on the Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul, Jan. 18, 2014.
Police use a water cannon to try to disperse people protesting against newly proposed restrictions on the use of the internet and against the Turkish government during a protest on the Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul, Jan. 18, 2014.
Dorian Jones
— The Turkish government is facing growing criticism over its proposals to control Internet use. The moves come with the government mired in corruption allegations.

The center of Istanbul became a battleground, with police using water cannons and tear gas to disperse a mid-January demonstration against government proposals to control the Internet. Were the proposals to become law, Internet service providers would be compelled to block websites within four hours of being ordered to do so by the government, block key word searches if so ordered, and keep customers' user information for two years.

Lawyer Selin Kaledelen of the Korsan website, which campaigns for freedom of information, said the government's Internet proposals are aimed at stifling allegations of high-level government corruption. "My reaction? I was not shocked because I was waiting for that … This law gives the opportunity of the authorities to block these websites within four hours," he explained. "So for me, it's dictatorship of the authorities in terms of law. It's a censorship law and we don't recognize it."

In December, a major judicial probe was launched into alleged high-level government corruption. Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan responded by reassigning thousands of police officers and prosecutors linked to the investigation, saying the probe was a unfairly targeting government allies.

Political analyst Cengiz Aktar of the Istanbul Policy Forum says the new law is part of a worrying trend. "This is probably the last nail on the already ailing Internet freedom in this country. The law of 2007 was already very restrictive. Turkey was one of the worst countries in terms of Internet freedom even now. We will see how far it will go. It's always very difficult to cut all links from the world to make Turkey something which would look like North Korea. But these are desperate moves by the government," he said.

But the government insists the proposals are just about protecting people’s privacy and are in line with international standards.

Under existing legislation, Turkish courts have blocked more than 40,000 websites, one of the highest figures in the world. Popular sites such as YouTube have been banned for several years.

Yaman Akdeniz, a professor of law and expert on cyber freedoms at Istanbul’s Bilgi University, questions the effectiveness of such controls.

"Turkish people, since the of blocking access to YouTube, have become very much knowledgeable about the Internet and related matters," said Aktar. "If somebody wants to access information, you will not be able to stop them as long as they know the information is out there."

With Prime Minister Erdogan's ruling AK Party enjoying a large majority in parliament, it's expected that the Internet reforms will become law. But Selin Kaledelen of the Korsan website predicts the government will face an increasingly bitter battle over Internet freedom.

"I don't think they will succeed now. People like us will talk. It's not just about government corruption, it can be any case. So we will have additional routes and roads to communicate in the future. They can't stop us. But maybe they can build their own cyber army, because they are doing that. They are hiring some computer scientists, or coders and hackers. They are building their own crew," stated Kaledelen.

A recent Turkish opinion poll found 64 percent of people did not believe the country's mainstream media were freely covering government corruption allegations. Observers say the Internet is increasingly seen as an important alternative source of news. With Turkey entering into an 18-month period of elections, the outcome of the battle over Internet freedom is expected to have far reaching consequences for the country.

You May Like

Video On the Scene: In Gaza, Darkness Brings Dread and Death

Palestinians fear nighttime raids, many feel abandoned by outside world, VOA's Scott Bobb reports More

African Small Farmers Could Be Key to Ending Food Insecurity

Experts say providing access to microloans, crop insurance, better storage facilities, irrigation, road systems and market information could enable greater production More

University of Michigan Wins Solar Car Race

Squad guided its student-designed solar-powered vehicle to fifth consecutive time victory in eight-day bi-annual American Solar Challenge More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spati
X
Reasey Poch
July 28, 2014 7:18 PM
China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video Vietnamese Staging Chinese Product Boycott After Oil Rig Spat

China recently pulled an oil rig from an area of the disputed South China Sea that Vietnam also claims. Despite the action, the incident has had a lingering effect on consumers in Vietnam. VOA's Reasey Poch reports from Hanoi on an effort to boycott Chinese products.
Video

Video ESA Spacecraft to Land on a Comet

After a long flight through deep space, a European Space Agency probe is finally approaching its target -- a comet millions of kilometers away from earth. Scientists say the mission may lead to some startling discoveries about the origins of the water on earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Young Africans Arrive in US for Leadership Program

President Barack Obama's Young African Leadership Initiative has brought hundreds of young Africans to the United States for a six-week program aimed at building their knowledge and skills in fields such as public administration and business. Out of the 50,000 young Africans who applied for the program, just one percent was accepted. VOA's Laurel Bowman caught up with some of those who made the cut and has this report.
Video

Video In Honduras, Amnesty Rumors Fuel US Migration Surges

False rumors in Central America are fueling the current surge of undocumented young people being apprehended at the U.S. border. The inaccurate claims suggest the U.S. will give amnesty to young migrants from the region. As VOA's Brian Padden reports from Honduras, these rumors trace back to President Obama's 2012 executive order to halt deportations for some young undocumented immigrants already living in the United States.
Video

Video Students in Business for Themselves

They're only high school students, but they are making accessories for shoes, fabricating backpacks and doing product photography - all through their own businesses. It's the result of a partnership between a non-profit organization that teaches entrepreneurship and their schools. VOA's Mike O'Sullivan and Deyane Moses met the budding entrepreneurs near Los Angeles.
Video

Video Astronauts Train in Underwater Lab

In the world’s only underwater laboratory, four U.S. astronauts train for a planned visit to an asteroid. The lab - called Aquarius- is located five kilometers off Key Largo, in southern Florida. Living in close quarters and making excursions only into the surrounding ocean, they try to simulate the daily routine of a crew that will someday travel to collect samples of a rock orbiting far away from earth. VOA’s George Putic has more.

AppleAndroid