News

Turkey seeks tighter internet control

Warwick Ashford

Turkey is reportedly moving closer to even tighter government control of the internet after pushing new internet regulations through parliament.

The authorities have a long history of monitoring and filtering web content in the country, even intermittently blocking access to services such as YouTube.

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Opposition parties have accused the government of attempting to gain tighter control of the internet through legislation that enables it to impose restriction without court supervision.

The controversial new regulations were adopted after fierce debate in parliament, and now require only the signature of Turkish president Abdullah Gül to become law.

Under the new measures, Turkey's telecommunications authority (TIB) will be allowed to block any website within 24 hours, reports the Guardian.

This means the TIB can shut down any website without a court order, but the site owners will need to go to court to get the site reinstated.

Internet service providers will also be required to store all data on web users' activities for two years and make it available to the authorities upon request.

Economists have said concerns over government access to sensitive commercial data may encourage companies to withdraw operations from Turkey.

The government has rejected accusations of censorship, but activists say the new regulations violate rights to freedom of expression and privacy.

Human rights group Amnesty International said the Turkish government has shown very little tolerance of opposing opinions

"It is worrying that the law puts control over the internet further in the hands of the government and away from judicial oversight," said Andrew Gardner, Turkey researcher for Amnesty International.

The Turkish government has gradually increased its ability to monitor and censor internet communications in recent years.

Government websites have come under repeated attack from hacktivist collective Anonymous in protest against web filtering in the country.

The authorities have particularly targeted services such as Twitter after social media played a significant role in co-ordinating anti-government protests in Tunisia and Egypt.

In 2013, it emerged that Turkish anti-government protesters were making innovative use of technology to stay ahead of the authorities by using a mix of social media services accessed through public and private networks.

Activists are using private groups on services such as Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr, along with private messaging apps, to share information.


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