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.
TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 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.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid