‘Freedom-shmeedom’ for Internet users in Turkey
Internet freedom in Turkey Received another blow recently as Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan shut down Twitter around the country.
Twitter is one of the more mobilizing forces when it comes to elections around the world. In 2009, Iranian protestors gathered in masses to protest the election of then President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. Later, the social media outlet played a major role in the Arab Spring, which ended Egyptian Dictator Hosni Mubarak's 30-year reign.
It is shocking, but perhaps not surprising, then that Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan is looking to block the social media outlet with elections coming in just 10 days. This is a frighteningly alarming move for Internet users in the country, not just because it limits the ways they can politically express themselves, but it marks only the next step in a series of moves from the government to limit online freedom.
A slippery slope
This move marks a movement along a path that many feared would happen after the country;s legislative body approved new legislation that was drafted by the majority party. The legislation would allow the Turkish Telecommunications Authority to block websites without needing to obtaining a court order. With a court order, the TIB can block a specific URL, and internet service providers need to grant the request within four hours, according to Al Jazeera.
Erdogan said he would look to shut down the social media outlet, along with other websites soon after the legislation was passed. This came at a time when a scandal broke about widespread corruption in his regime, with phone conversations reportedly with his voice looking to hide huge sums of money.
What is scary about the laws is just how little regard Erdogan has for the website and others like it.
"Now there is a court order. Twitter, mwitter, we will eradicate it all," he said, according to CNN. "They will see the power of the Turkish Republic. This has nothing to do with freedom-shmeedom," he later added.
Erdogan's position should not be taken lightly. These actions are indicative of both the Internet's power to create transparency throughout the government, and how that transparency can lead to harsher crackdowns.
Twitter has been blocked by a number of other governments as well. China and Iran have both prohibited access, following similar issues of dissent, though the current Iranian president has vowed to lift the ban. These actions have yet to happen.
Twitter is working to help Turkish citizens bypass the block by using the social media platform through text messages, CNN reported.