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 China Investigates Powerful Former Security Chief

Analysts say move by President Xi is an effort to win more party support, take step toward economic reforms, removing those who would stand in way of change More

South Africa Land Reforms Still Contentious 20 Years Later

Activists argue that the pace of land reform is slow and biased; legal experts question how some proposed reforms would be implemented More

In Vietnam, Religious Freedoms Violated, UN Finds

Beliefs reportedly prompt heavy surveillance, intimidation and travel restrictions 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.
Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelteri
X
Scott Bobb
July 30, 2014 8:16 PM
Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Gazans in Shelled School Sought Shelter

Israel's air and ground assault against Hamas-led fighters in Gaza has forced many Palestinians to flee their homes, seeking safety. But safe places are hard to find, as VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from Jabaliya.
Video

Video Rapid Spread of Ebola in West Africa Prompts Global Alert

Across West Africa, health officials are struggling to keep up with what the World Health Organization describes as the worst ebola outbreak on record. The virus has killed hundreds of people this year. U.S. President Barack Obama and other world leaders are watching the developments closely as they weigh what actions, if any, are needed to help contain the disease.
Video

Video Michelle Obama: Young Africans Need to Embrace Women's Rights

U.S. first lady Michelle Obama urged some of Africa's best and brightest to advocate for women's rights in their home countries. As VOA's Pam Dockins explains, Obama spoke to some 500 participants of the Young African Leaders Initiative, a six-week U.S.-based training and development program.
Video

Video Immigrant Influx on Texas Border Heats Up Political Debate

Immigrants from Central America continue to cross the U.S.-Mexico border in south Texas, seeking asylum in the United States, as officials grapple with ways to deal with the problem and provide shelter for thousands of minors among the illegal border crossers. As VOA's Greg Flakus reports from Houston, the issue is complicated by internal U.S. politics and U.S. relations with the troubled nations that immigrants are fleeing.
Video

Video Study: Latino Students Most Segregated in California

Even though legal school segregation ended in the United States 60 years ago, one study finds segregation still occurs in the U.S. based on income and race. The University of California Los Angeles Civil Rights Project finds that students in California are more segregated by race than ever before, especially Latinos. Elizabeth Lee reports for VOA from Los Angeles.
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 A Summer Camp for All the World

VIDEO: During workshops and social gatherings, the Global Youth Village summer camp encourages young people to cooperate and embrace their differences, while learning to communicate with people from other countries. VOA's Deborah Block has more.
Video

Video From Cantankerous Warlock to Incorruptible Priest, 'Harry Potter' Actor Embraces Diverse Roles

He’s perhaps best known as Mad Eye Moody, the whimsical wizard in the Harry Potter franchise. But character actor Brendan Gleeson's resume includes dozens of films, and he embraces all the characters he inhabits with equal passion. In an interview with VOA’s Penelope Poulou, Gleeson discussed his new drama "Calvary" and his secret to success.

AppleAndroid