By Heini Järvinen
On 8 September 2014, the Turkish parliament passed an amendment to the already draconian Internet law. The amendment allows the Turkish Telecommunication Authority (TIB) to block (without a court order) any website that appears to threaten “national security or public order”. Internet Service Providers (ISPs) are required to execute the blocking order of the TIB within four hours. This enables the government to block content quickly and without due process of law.
In addition to allowing blocking of websites without a court ruling, the law also obliges ISPs to store all data on web users’ activities, such as browsing history, for two years, and make it available to the authorities upon request, without a court order.
The new law, as well as other recent actions of the Turkish government, have raised concerns about freedom of speech in the country. The large majority of the traditional mainstream media is either directly or indirectly under the government control, and the Internet remains one of the few channels for free speech in Turkey, but the government is continuously increasing the measures to control also the Internet.
During the last few years, the Turkish government has blocked sites which broadcast recordings that appear to indicate corruption of government officials and appear to show dubious relationships with the fundamentalist organisations in Syria and Iraq. In spring 2014, social media platform Twitter and a video-sharing website YouTube remained blocked for several weeks. “National security and maintaining public order” were used as justifications also to this blocking.
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Turkey: Internet freedom, rights in sharp decline (02.09.2014)