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Turks Clash with Police Over Internet Curbs

  • VOA News

Turkish riot police take cover as they fire water cannons, tear gas at hundreds of demonstrators marching on Taksim Square, Istanbul, Feb. 8, 2014.
Turkish riot police used water cannons and tear gas to disperse hundreds of people protesting legislation that critics say will tighten government controls over the Internet.

Demonstrators hurled firecrackers and stones Saturday at police officers who cordoned off Istanbul's Taksim Square.

The legislation would allow authorities to block websites for privacy violation without a court decision. Internet providers would also be forced to keep users' data and make them available to state officials.

Earlier Saturday, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan vehemently rejected criticism of the new curbs — passed Wednesday by parliament — to a crowd of several thousand supporters in Istanbul.

The new curbs provoked a storm of criticism, with detractors saying they are an attempt by Erdogan to stifle dissent and stop evidence of high-level corruption being seen online.

Human Rights Watch said the restrictions raise concerns that a "defensive government is seeking to increase its power to silence critics and to arbitrarily limit politically damaging material online."

European Parliament chief Martin Schulz called them a "step back in an already suffocating environment for media freedom," while Washington also expressed misgivings.

Some information for this report comes from AP and AFP.