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

Polls Open in Scotland Independence Vote

As race to persuade undecided voters continues, 'No' voters say they believe life in Scotland will slowly improve, 'Yes' vote not worth the risk More

China-India Border Standoff Continues as Leaders Hold Summit

New Delhi accuses hundreds of Chinese soldiers of illegally entering Indian territory in disputed region of Ladakh More

Ukrainian Activist in Despair About Future of Her Country

IrIna Dovgan, accused of being a spy and tortured by pro-Russian separatists, is appealing to UN Human Rights Council to support her country 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.
A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Wateri
X
September 17, 2014 8:44 PM
Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.
Video

Video NASA Picks Boeing, SpaceX to Carry Astronauts Into Space

The U.S. space agency, NASA, has chosen Boeing and SpaceX companies to build the next generation of spacecraft that will carry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station by the year 2017. The deal with private industry enables NASA to end its dependence on Russia to send space crews into low Earth orbit and back. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video Future of Ukrainian Former President's Estate Uncertain

More than six months after Ukraine's former President Viktor Yanukovych fled revolution to Russia, authorities have yet to gain control of his palatial estate. Protesters occupy the grounds and opened it to tourists but they are also refusing to turn it over to the state. VOA's Daniel Schearf reports from Mezhigirya, just north of Kyiv.
Video

Video China Muslims Work to Change Perceptions After Knife Attacks

China says its has sentenced three men to death and one woman to life in prison for a deadly knife attack in March that left more than 30 dead and 140 injured. Beijing says Muslim militants from China's restive western region of Xinjiang carried out the attacks. Now, more than six months after the incident, residents in the city are still coping with the aftermath. VOA's Bill Ide has more from Kunming.
Video

Video Enviropreneur Seeks to Save the Environment, Empower the Community

Lorna Rutto, a former banker, is now an ‘enviropreneur’ - turning plastic waste into furniture and fences discusses the challenges she faces in Africa with raw materials and the environment.
Video

Video West Trades Accusations Over Ransoms

As world leaders try to forge a common response to the threat posed by Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria, there is simmering tension over differing policies on paying ransoms. In the past month, the jihadist group has beheaded two Americans and one Briton. Both countries refuse to pay ransom money. As Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London, there is uncertainty in the approach of some other European nations.
Video

Video Scotland Independence Bid Stokes Global Interest

The people of Scotland are preparing to vote on whether to become independent and break away from the rest of Britain, in a referendum being watched carefully in many other countries. Some see it as a risky experiment; while others hope a successful vote for independence might energize their own separatist demands. Foreign immigrants to Scotland have a front row seat for the vote. VOA’s Henry Ridgwell spoke to some of them in Edinburgh.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid