Turkey has Internet laws that are restrictive by world standards, let alone European standards, or standards of a free Internet that we want. Up until now, over 40 thousand administrative and legal rulings have restricted access to sites! Now, the government of Turkey, post-Gezi Park protests and faced with a recent political crisis, has restricted the Internet even more! This is unacceptable and has to be recanted!
Turkey needs to change its approach to the Internet, as it is an essential element of contemporary public sphere - not a black and white state media outlet from the post-coup era in the country where the government can impose its position by phonecall, or impose the morality and politics of its choice on a society that has clearly outgrown Erdoğan's dwindling notions of democracy and pluralism.
The new changes made to the (already very limiting) Law on Crimes Committed with the Medium of Internet (Law no. 5651), have: (i) widened the circumstances under which access can be restricted to include vague accusations of “violation of privacy”; (ii) granted the Telecommunications Board (TİB) authority to restrict access to websites or individual web pages without court order, and within a matter of hours after a warning; (iii) allowed restrictions to be placed on IP addresses as well as URLs, tightening the already restrictive access to information web users in the country face; (iv) formed a legally mandated service providers’ association that is to store users’ data for no less than two years and to release personal web data to the TİB without court order on request.
These measures clearly restrict freedom of information and expression, thus the process of democracy, and are in clear violation of Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights on freedom of expression as well as Article 90 of Turkey’s constitution on the rule of international treaties.
We call on President Gül to reject these changes to the law. They are archaic and restrictive, and not what the people of Turkey deserve! We call on the Government of Turkey to recant them; and instead to take measures to lift current, already heavy, restrictions on Internet access in the country, allowing the internet to be a sphere of free dissemination of information and public debate - not constricted by any one take on morality, and not open to restrictions motivated by political gain of any government in power or ideological outlook of the state. We call on the EU to not take these developments lightly, and guide and warn the Government of Turkey about European standards of democracy and pluralism, regarding the Internet too.