By Guest author

Turkish media reports that the government intends to buy NetClean software to remove unwanted material from Twitter. The negotiations are said to be ongoing with an exorbitant price tag of 40 million euros.

NetClean is a Swedish software company that specializes in providing “intelligence solutions to block, detect and analyse digital media”. The Turkish government claims that the reason for planning the acquisition enabling censoring Twitter is to fight child porn. The website of NetClean also specifies that the overall goal of their products is “furthering the fight against child sexual abuse content”. However, considering the recent occurrences related to social media blocking and censorship in Turkey, it seems obvious there are other reasons behind it. A simple web search with words “Twitter ban Turkey” results a list of links that reveal numerous potential reasons why the Turkish government would be eager to censor social media in the country, and the absence of links pointing to any reason related to child pornography is self-evident.

In Turkey mass media are widely considered to be directly or indirectly under the control of the government or entities which are dependent on government contracts. Twitter has become an important tool for freedom of expression in the country. It was one of the most important sources of reliable news during the Taksim Gezi uprising in June 2013. At the beginning of 2014 recordings alleging corruption of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and some of the members of his cabinet were posted to Twitter, and the government responded by blocking the social media platform in Turkey. The ban was lifted after the ruling on 2 April 2014 by the Constitutional Court.

Censorship for child pornography being prepared (10.06.2014)
http://www.taraf.com.tr/haber-sansure-cocuk-pornosu-kilifi-hazirlaniyor-156496/

Turkey’s top soldier warns against social media as gov’t to purchase software against illegal shares (30.05.2014)
http://www.hurriyetdailynews.com/turkeys-top-soldier-warns-against-social-media-as-govt-to-purchase-software-against-illegal-shares.aspx?pageID=238&nID=67178&NewsCatID=341

Twitter “net cleaning” begins (30.05.2014)
http://www.sabah.com.tr/Ekonomi/2014/05/30/twitterda-net-temizlik-basliyor

NetClean
https://www.netclean.com/

(Contribution by Melih Kirlidog, EDRi member Alternatif Bilisim, Turkey)