Turkish Parliament Restricts Free Expression Online

The Turkish parliament’s approval February 5 of legislation allowing the government to block websites without a court order significantly undermines internet freedom and citizens’ freedom of speech, Freedom House said.

“This law gives the government license to censor on the internet whatever it doesn’t like and whatever it doesn’t want the public to know,” said Daniel Calingaert, executive vice president of Freedom House. “It is a government attempt to limit political activity, especially debate unfavorable to the government.”

Freedom House urges President Abdullah Gul to veto the legislation, to prevent it from going into effect.

The law allows the Transport and Telecommunications Minister and regulators to block websites without judicial approval and also if citizens complain of a “violation of privacy.” Content and hosting providers will not have a right to appeal until the materials have been blocked.

Since mid-December 2013, when a corruption scandal began to receive attention, documents and videos that purportedly discredit public officials have been shared through social media, raising speculation that the bill aims to suppress any damaging information leaked online.

Learn more:
Press Release: Proposed Changes to Internet Law in Turkey Another Step Backwards
Special Report: Democracy in Crisis: Corruption, Media, and Power in Turkey
Freedom in the World 2014: Turkey
Freedom of the Press 2013: Turkey
Freedom on the Net 2013: Turkey
Blog: Freedom at Issue

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