The Turkish Government is trying to justify Internet censorship

By EDRi · February 26, 2014

A large and aggressive campaign has been deployed by the Turkish ruling
party AKP (Justice and Development Party) over the last few weeks in an
attempt to justify Internet censorship.

Paid-for advertising, press statements, op-eds in pro-government
newspapers or tweets were meant to press the idea that censorship is a
mean to protect Internet users and that anti-censorship positions are
actually “porn-lobby” actions.

What the government is trying to inoculate is that if the Internet were
not controlled, it would be a threat to children by a large range of
dangerous websites from porn sites to “violent websites,” “instructions
on how to kill your mother”, “sex with animals” and other such kind of

“So would you want your child to be a victim of sexual abuse, porn,
gambling or other hideous acts?” was The Star, a pro-government
newspaper, asking its readers.

The AKP has also launched a paid-for advertising campaign showing a
bruised woman with the  comment: “Violence is a crime. What about the
Internet? Absence of rules does not mean liberty!”

“No matter what the government may say about protecting children or
stopping violence against women through censorship, everybody knows that
those issues are not being addressed to in real life, physically on the
street,” said Gurkan Ozturan, a journalist and blogger.

The campaign comes as the government has prepared a bill to amend the
Internet law introducing control mechanisms that give too much
discretionary power to the telecommunications authority and lacking in
legal safeguards. The bill was approved by President Abdullah Gul on 18
February 2014 after it had passed by the Parliament.

“It is not just about censorship or control of content, but they are
introducing certain mechanisms that I call an Orwellian nightmare,” said
Yaman Akdeniz, professor of law at Istanbul’s Bilgi University who
added: “These are the first steps toward the creation of surveillance
society in Turkey. If there aren’t any safeguards then the TIB [the
Telecommunications Directorate] could use the data for whatever purpose
it wants. Even if I’m not charged with a crime, it can ask for my data
and retain it. It can check on opposition party members, basically anyone. “

It is already obvious that the new legislation has nothing to do with
protecting children but that it is intended to help protect
Prime-Minister Erdogan and its government. Under the pretext of
protecting personal privacy, the law will allow the authorities to
collect users’ browsing histories and to block websites without any
court order. In a last amendment to the law, the order of the TIB
president will be subject to a court review within 24 hours.

Freedom House, a human rights group, has warned that Mr. Erdogan’s
government is using “a variety of strong-arm tactics to suppress the
media’s proper role as a check on power,” including forcing the firing
of journalists who are not favourable to the government and buying off
media moguls to promote pro-government campaigns.

The European Union and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in
Europe have also expressed opinions against these developments.

Hundreds of protesters went out on a riot after the law was approved
which lead to several arrests.

Turkey: Censorship laws don’t sell themselves (17.02.2014)

Protesters clash with police over new Internet law in Turkey (23.02.2014)

‘Turkey’s new Internet law is the first step toward surveillance
society,’ says cyberlaw expert (24.02.2014)

Turkey’s Internet Crackdown (21.02.2014)

EDRi-gram: Turkey: Internet censorship is getting harsher (15.01.2014)