Proposed Changes to Internet Law in Turkey Another Step Backwards | Freedom House

Proposed Changes to Internet Law in Turkey Another Step Backwards

Washington

Proposed amendments to Turkey’s law regulating the Internet would further erode Turkish citizens’ freedom of speech and should be rejected, Freedom House said. The amendments, now under consideration in parliament, lessen judicial oversight and expand what type of content can be blocked.

“This proposal represents another step backwards for internet freedom,” said Sanja Kelly, project director for the Freedom on the Net survey at Freedom House. “In a country that already blocks many legitimate websites, this opens the door for greater censorship of content that the authorities find undesirable.”

The amendments allow the Transport and Telecommunications Minister and regulators to block websites without a court order. Citizens who claim to suffer a “violation of privacy” may petition a criminal court to remove content, giving content or hosting providers the right to appeal only after materials have been blocked. Further, providers may be required to store data on individual internet users for up to two years, raising privacy concerns. In December 2012, the European Court of Human Rights found that a significant portion of the existing law violates the European Convention on Human Rights.

“The Turkish government is more committed to its own survival than to upholding basic freedoms,” said Susan Corke, director for Eurasia programs at Freedom House.

The ruling Justice and Development Party is facing a major corruption scandal that has endangered the party’s hold on power. 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.

Turkey is rated Partly Free in Freedom in the World 2013, Freedom of the Press 2013 and Freedom on the Net 2013.

To learn more, visit:
Freedom Alert: Turkey’s Judicial “Reform” Will Undermine Democracy
Freedom in the World 2013: Turkey
Freedom of the Press 2013: Turkey
Freedom on the Net 2013: Turkey
Blog: Freedom at Issue

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