Turkey’s Internet law could serve as a negative example for other countries
Turkey's increasing control and censorship of the Internet is alarming. The government recently increased its ability to quickly block content without legal delay.
Parliament passed a bill in September which allows the Turkish telecom authority to shut down any website that is believed to threaten national security and public order, reported The Wall Street Journal.
This recent move augments legislation from February which allowed regulators to block websites without the need for a court order. The new law caused the public to respond angrily and criticisms were heard from Washington and around the world.
New Internet law in Turkey
The expanded Internet law, which requires approval from President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, was introduced a short time after the country hosted a conference on web governance in Istanbul. Many people have been quick to point out the hypocrisy in hosting a high-profile event on Internet governance while simultaneously passing legislation that allows unconstitutional content censorship. President Erdogan is expected to sign the legislation into law.
The new abilities the government granted itself represent an increased level of censorship power rather than a revamp of existing systems. Zeynep Tufekci, a fellow at the Center for Information Technology Policy at Princeton University, said government control has essentially been intensified, allowing for quicker response time.
"Now they can block with no delay, meaning it decreases the odds that people will see content they don't want them to," Tufekci, told The Wall Street Journal.
Earlier this year, Turkey blocked access to Twitter, YouTube and several other sites. The access-ban was in response to leaked recordings, uploaded online, that allegedly implicated President Erdogan and allies in cases of corruption. Critics of Turkey's government commented that the new legislation was simply an effort to stifle investigations into the corruption.
President Erdogan announced publicly that the recent moves are intended to protect privacy and national security. He was forced to change his position on Twitter and YouTube after the ban was overturned by Turkey's top court, according to The Wall Street Journal.
"I am increasingly against the Internet every day," Erdogan said in a press conference, reported Newsweek.
The recent moves by Turkey are troublesome because they could serve as an example for other countries wishing to tighten control over the Internet. Countries like China and Iran already have strict Internet protocols, and have received International criticism over their level of censorship. Turkey's example will only strengthen their resolve.