Turkey Passes New Net Censorship And Surveillance Laws; West No Longer In A Position To Criticize
from the awkward dept
Last week we discussed the Turkish government's bizarre campaign about the supposed "problems" of online freedom. Maybe this was an attempt to blunt criticism of its new online censorship law, which has just been passed by the Turkish parliament, as the Wall Street Journal reports:
The law, which must be approved by President Abdullah Gul to take effect, will allow the Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication, or TIB, to block access to Internet sites within four hours of receiving complaints about privacy violations. Turkey's web hosts will also have to store all traffic information for up to two years, according to the measure adopted as part of a legislative package.
That is, not only does it bring in harsh and swift online censorship, but requires online surveillance too. As the Guardian points out, this makes a bad situation worse:
Censorship and a very tight control of the internet are already a reality in Turkey. According to Engelliweb.com, around 40,500 websites were blocked in Turkey by the beginning of February -- 10,000 more than in April last year. The latest Freedom of the Net report published by Freedom House describes the Turkish internet as "partially free".
Despite that, Turkey's deputy prime minister, Bülent Arınç, is quoted as saying:
"We are freer and have more press freedom than many other countries in the world," he said.
The sad thing is, he may be right. Now that Western countries have lost the moral high ground when it comes to censoring Web sites and carrying out blanket surveillance, others plainly feel they have a free hand to bring in even more repressive laws clamping down on Internet freedom. Turkey's move is just the latest in a growing series.