“Do Not Touch My Internet!”

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On Istiklal Avenue in Istanbul, Turkey, on February 8, 2014, young demonstrators clashed with the police during a protest in response to a newly passed legislation that set many restrictions on the use of internet.  One protester, Semih said:

I pay my own internet bill but it’s the government that decides what sites I can look at.  They want to control what we do on the internet.  It’s repression.  But the young will not be repressed, we won’t take it lying down.

Another young protester, Burak said:

One of the few remaining liberties we have is the internet and being able to communicate.  This is what they want to constrain.

This new law allows the government to block or filter any websites deemed to violate privacy or considered insulting without requiring a court order.  Additionally, the law allows the government to have infinite access to data and information on all internet users, whom would be unknowing of when and how the information is collected.

As many may know, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is also the leader of so-called “AKP” (Justice and Development Party) is not a fan of social media and networking on the internet.  In fact, during one of his speech in the past, he stated that Twitter is a scourge and the best examples of lies can be found there.  He thinks that social media is the worst menace to society.  However, it is important to note that this new internet law not only target social media users, but all internet users. He further supported this new law claiming that these regulations will not impose any censorship at all on the internet but rather will make it safer and freer for all users.  He says there was a need to protect privacy, and that is what it has been achieved with this new law.

According to some AKP oppositions, this new internet law is actually a reaction to evidence posted online about the corruption scandals happened in early December 2013.  By providing unlimited power over the internet data, the government would achieve in covering up embarrassing or incriminating allegations against the Prime Minister or his party.

While the Erdogan government thinks this new internet law provides more freedom and privacy and actually protects individual rights, the public, especially the youth does not agree.  What do you think about Turkey’s new internet law?  Do you believe a desirable end can be promoted by prohibited means?  Do you think this new law is really protecting privacy or it is an attack against privacy?

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6 comments

  1. While the prime minister may be claiming this law is for the better, it is quite clear it is only better for him and other higher government officials. Whenever a government seeks to restrict access to the internet and social media it is always for their own benefit. Those governments are usually the ones that seek to repress their people as much as they can so as to maintain a tight grip on the rule they have over them. If internet access is restricted then so is access to media and news updates, and more importantly exposes on what scandals the Turkish government is in the midst of. While I agree that privacy sometimes becomes an issue with all the social media outlets available these days, in the end it is up to the person behind the keyboard to choose what to show to the public through these outlets and what to keep to themselves. As a result, this excuse of protecting privacy and the people is a very obvious shroud to cover up the scandals of the Turkish government.

  2. There is no real freedom without freedom of the press and the deliberate blocking of individual’s access to certain sites should never be allowed. It’s a complete farce to claim that through censorship there is more freedom and that individual liberties are being protected through said censorship. This is definitely a response to potential sensitive data that may have been disseminated through the internet that smears the Turkish government. Instead of inhibiting the access to internet, the Turkish government should instead rethink their own security measures to protect their own data.

    It has been shown worldwide that blocking the internet is never a good thing and when people cannot get on the internet riots start, and people begin to protest. The internet is a gateway for people’s lives and frustrations and happiness and taking that away makes people mad. When people get mad, people begin to revolt, let it be through anonymous groups, such as Lulsec or Anonymous, or just generally. Internet needs to be free for all to access to promote freedom.

  3. Access to information is essential to maintaining a free society. Contrary to what Prime Minister Erdogan would want us to believe, the good people of Turkey are completely capable of reading, digesting, and deciding for themselves which information they choose to give weight. Free speech and free press have long been viewed as the cornerstones of democratic society, and in the 21st century this requires access to social media and other unofficial sources of news. It is not surprising that the internet is feared by many politicians: it fosters access to vast wealths of information which is outside the control of any one government. Censorship in Turkey is nothing new. While the government can keep tighter reigns on print media, the internet provides a forum which is significantly more difficult to control, especially given the ability to access foreign sources of news. While the government of Turkey may have a legitimate goal to provide some protection of privacy, it should tread carefully so as to not overstep into full-fledged censorship which would restrict its citizens’ access to information.

  4. I believe this type of law sets a dangerous precedent going forward. Freedom of information is a vital cornerstone to democracy. Without information, voters cannot make informed choices and ultimately all of society suffers. If a government controls information, they essentially control everything. This can lead to dangerous consequences. Just look at what the Nazi Goebbels did when he was able to control, suppress, and twist information to suit wicked ends. Although of course this law isn’t as horrible as Nazi Germany, it is certainly a step in the wrong direction.

    Proper public discourse can only take effect when citizens are operating on full and accurate information. It is not for the government to decide what internet sites/information is considered “insulting” and thereafter ban it. Matters of taste and preference are largely up to the individual, and when government attempts to control them by limiting information, everyone loses except government.

  5. There is no way that this new internet law provides more freedom and privacy and protects individual rights! The fact that the Erdogan government is claiming that this new law is for the better under this idea is quite laughable. This new law accomplishes the complete opposite of providing more freedom, privacy, and protecting individual rights. The freedom to access unfiltered information is a critical cornerstone to a free and educated society. Without access to such information the people of a society are being kept in the dark. They will not be able make informed choices without such access to information. This does not seem to be providing more freedom, privacy, and protection of individual rights. This is a way for the government to control the dissemination of information. It is most likely a way to control what information gets out about the government. This is clearly censorship and more unjust than “better.”

  6. The new law enacted by the Turkish government goes against it’s original desired purpose of providing privacy to its users. The Government having complete control over filtering what they consider insulting takes away an individuals freedom to think and chose for themselves. An individual should have the right to use the many resources provided by the Internet in the way they deem necessary, especially since they are the ones paying the bills to utilize this asset. I feel that this law was established in accordance with the clear feelings of only a few government officials towards the use of the Internet, not taking into account the good that the internet also produces. With every developed technology that is brought into the world, come both good and bad consequences. There must be some other means that can be utilized by the government to restrict the bad while still preserving the good that the internet provides.

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