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Turkish Parliament Approves Internet Crackdown

Protesters shout slogans against Turkey's Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan during a demonstration in Ankara, Feb. 6, 2014.
The Turkish parliament has easily passed a measure that will tighten government controls on the Internet. If it gets final approval, the proposal would require service providers to make users' browsing histories available to the government for up to two years at a time.

The measure was passed late Wednesday by the legislature, where Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's ruling AK party holds 319 of the 550 seats.

The bill is part of a larger bill expected to be approved Thursday. It must be signed into law by the president, Abdullah Gul, before taking effect.

The bill's provisions would allow the government to block a website without court authorization if it is deemed to violate privacy or contain content judged to be "insulting."

Opposition leaders and press freedom advocates said the measure is a further step in a crackdown on free speech in Turkey. The Committee to Protect Journalists said the measure is a "slide into Internet authoritarianism" in a country it said is the leading jailer of journalists worldwide.

AK party deputy Necdet Unuvar said on his personal website that the legislation is meant to protect individual privacy.

Some information for this report was provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.