Turkey Approves Internet Restrictions – A Threat or A Relief

Updated: On Thursday this week (6 January, 2014), Turkey’s Parliament gave the government the green light to block websites without having to ask permission from the court in what many are calling the most non-democratic move in the country’s history.
The blocking of websites is only the tip of the iceberg when you consider that the new law will require Internet service providers (ISPs) and web hosting companies operating in Turkey have been mandated to keep user’s running records for a period of two years. This means that online privacy is now essentially non-existent for Turkish netizens unless they use a VPN.

Turkey’s internet campaign began in 2007. The law that drew attention in 2007 and is now serving as the foundation for more developments in Turkey’s is Law No. 5651 on Regulating Broadcasting in the Internet and Fighting Against Crimes Committed through Internet Broadcasting.

The introduction of the law in 2007 was perceived as Turkey’s attempt to suppress online gambling and hate-speech against Turkey’s beloved former President Mustafa Kemal Atatürk in Turkish cyber space. The Turkish Parliament building and its surrounding streets have been ablaze with debates and protests over the allegedly anti-democratic move.

Statistics from the World Bank confirm that Turkey has a considerably high literacy rate (Over 90%) and nearly half the population frequently uses the internet (Over 45%). It is therefore no surprise that Turkish citizens are fully aware of their civil right to Internet Freedom and protesting on the streets of Istanbul, Ankara and the coastal city of Izmi.

Details about the specifics that the government wants ISPs to log still remain to be announced as political analysts and privacy advocates anticipate Turkey’s censorship measures to make the headlines with a higher frequency in the near future. We will update this blog frequently with developments as they take place.

Related Article: PayPal and eBay Hacked: Syrian Electronic Army Strikes Again

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Turkey’s New Censorship Policy

Turkey introduces its new censorship policy for the year 2014. Turkey welcomes the New Year with contemporary changes in preceding censorship privacy. However, the residents along with the Netizens across digital universe wonder:
Brad Pitt
Sources tell that the new censorship policy to be implemented in Turkey is an outcome of free speech and internet freedom concerns encountered in preceding year. The contemporary censorship policy is solely based on the amendments targeted at Law no. 5651 of preceding policy. In addition, the new censorship policy and its regulations strive towards betterment without compromising Netizens’ liberty and online freedom of speech, Turkish government argues.

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However, due to enhanced censorship concerns acknowledged, Netizens have lost faith in concerned legislative bodies. Every now and then, we encounter a new website, social network, application or any content for that matter blocked within a particular geographic region. In addition, some of the regulatory authorities even confine the access of content to a specific region only.
How come this policy is different – you all might be wondering, me too.

 

We have highlighted all noticeable and contemporary amendments in Turkish censorship policy that are prescribed below.
  1. Turkey strives to adopt new methods to cope with hurtful content. These measures will be implemented as per the regulations representing new censorship policy. Despite of censoring an entire website containing harmful content, only the URL leading to the respective content will be targeted and banned from access. Well that’s a relief. At least not everyone will be punished for the sins of few now. However, the point to be anxious about is: how does Turkey define the so-called harmful content?
  2. Concerned authorities will take notice of published content on diverse platforms. The content considered inadequate as per the social norms and cultural heritage will be subjected to censorship. Furthermore, the content referring to the degradation based on religion, race, social status, origin or even gender will be considered as a criminal activity necessitating censorship. Well, I guess all those people who love to brag about politics and religion all the time – need to worry a bit; even those who engage in debates at public forums and social networks.
  3. As per the new changes in preceding censorship policy, the ISPs will be working in coordination with the government. The Internet Service Providers will be authorized to maintain records of their users’ search history, personal data and even inspect their online activities. Ouch! Sounds like a mini NSA in the making. Best recommendation in this regard – get a VPN and just VANISH. Even your ISP won’t know that you exist in the digital universe.
  4. The regulatory authorities as per the new censorship policy will strengthen the restrictions on blocked content. We will make it impossible to access censored content for those who do it with an ease simply by changing the DNS settings, Turkish government stated. I guess it is time to fire the big guns now. To all those reliant on proxies or used to access blocked content by changing DNS setting – Say goodbye to the good old days. Perhaps, it is high time for you to get acquainted with a VPN now.
  5. The policy even targets the blog posts in Turkey except fashion, food and travel blogs. As per the new changes in censorship policy, the blogs especially the ones targeting political structure or welcoming debate for that matter will be subjected to suspicion and even surveillance.
  6. As per the new changes in censorship policy, the Internet Service Providers are instructed to confine their services to Turkey only. Strict action will be taken against those that are likely to carry-on their operations outside Turkey.
  7. Twitter – the most renowned micro-blogging site is characterized as “Menace” by Turkish Prime Minister. Furthermore, Facebook is claimed to be an outcome of “Ugly Technology”. So you can say goodbye to at least these two social media network in Turkey – if they are not blocked already.
Perhaps, Turkey is the new competitor in race of “who wins the Land of Censorship trophy”. Due to the severe allegations associated with the new censorship policy – it definitely is a newborn censorship ogre.
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Danish Pervez

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When the world sleeps, Danish Pervez is online researching consumer preferences and identifying next-gen trend waves. Experience in IT, combined with his diverse expertise in marketing and research - both traditional and digital - gives him an insight well worth reading and sharing.


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