The New Internet laws of Turkey or; Be careful Dude; We are Watching You

The New Internet laws of Turkey or; Be careful Dude; We are Watching You

There is a famous proverb n Turkish saying that “the coming of thursday would well be predicted on wednesday”. The proverb deserves a high credit when we look at the policy AKP Government on passing new laws towards restricting the internet use in Turkey. There was a high media coverage indicating the concern- or rather fear- of the Turkish citizens when the worldwide famous pianist and composer Fazil Say was charged for his tweets for publicly denigrating religious values two years ago. Due to the legislation signed in 2007, many websites (40.000 sites according to Turkeys www. EngelliWeb.com, which tracks restricted sites) have been blocked.
And as the Turkish proverb goes “we lived what we are scared of living”. On early february 2014, right before the municipal elections, Turkey’s parliement has adoPted a new “Internet Bill” which permits a government agency (called TIB) to block access to websites without any court authorization. The new law also also obliges internet providers to store all data on web users activities for two years and make it available to the authorities upon request.
Generally speaking, the new law gives an unlimited power to this new institution; Turkey’s Telecomunication Authority(TIB). It is strongly believed that the new instittion TİB, would clearly act as the “watching and controlling” body of the government. According to the new law, any bureucrat would be able to take down a certain website without having to apply for a court order. What is more shocking is that a citizen would need to take the decision to court in order to get the reverse.
As such, the main opposition party CHP raised harsh critics on the issue. The CHP clearly accused the government on imposing tight controls over its citizens but has remained inefficient on passing the new Bill as they own 319 seats in Parliament as opposed to AKP, with 550 seats. Some CHP MP’s even dared to compare the Prime Minister Erdoğan to Hitler while deputy Prime Minister Arınç defended the law by saying “we are freer and have more press freedom than ever.”
However the critics state the opposite. The civil organisations all around the World as well as human rights groups immediately raised their “deep” concern toward the law. The European Commission said it raised “serious concerns” in light of Turkey’s candidacy for European Union membership. The European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said the Turkish Public deserves more information and more transperency.” Martin Schultz, the president of the European Parliament posted a tweet saying that “the legislation is a step back in an alrady suffocating environment for media freedom. On the other hand Douglas Frantz,an American State Department official said that “the law is nothing but a 21st century book –burning”. Yaman Akdeniz, Professor at Bilgi University claims that the bans are not just about blocking access to certain information, but it is about trying to building up a structure that would gather data about the internet users.
But where does such an hatred of the Government stems from? The Turkish public noticed the first indications when the the famous pianist Fazil Say was accused of “breaking the public order” for posting tweets. But the main opposition toward social media and internet thereafter, started right after the world-wide famous Gezi protests in early june,2013. As the millions of protestors gathered through social media, the Prime Minister Erdoğan, for the first time declared that “to him, social media was the worst menace to society”.
By march 20, right before the elections the AKP Government went a step further and blocked Access to Twitter.. Though millions of twitter users passed private ways to beat the ban, the government went a step further and cut access to Youtube. It was surprising to see that despite governments efforts to imply censorship on the Internet the Twitter usage in Turkey rose %138 as of last year.
But the fact remains that cutting- not limiting- the freedom of speech has become the new way for AKP to tackle with crisis. Though the Government reads the results of the municipal elections as a victory and a proof of accurate policy decisions, a quite number of Turkish citizen insists on believing that the law is intended to silence the dissent.
As George Eliot puts it “There are many victories worse than a defeat”. Maybe this could be the reason why this many Turkish citizen remains silent ; they seem to be unable to guess what Thursday would bring anymore…

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