Can the government walk the walk?
The democracy package that was unveiled by the prime minister on Monday created lots of debate.
Naturally, political issues became the main conversation topics. Out of 12 topics that the prime minister underlined, there is one that is very important for the ICT industry in Turkey. He promised that the private information of all citizens will be under protection of the law.
This sounds really nice but I have a very hard time believing that it will come into effect. The reason why I really cannot believe it is because so far in this country the biggest crimes against the private information of people have been committed by the state itself or by the biggest firms such as banks and telecommunication giants.
If you would ask any telemarketer who is constantly teasing you, about the source where he/she got your mobile number, the answer is usually the name of the biggest telecommunication company in Turkey that once belonged to government.
It is very usual for people who have debts to the banks to receive calls and SMS’s from other financial institutions, some are legal and some are even semi-legal.
Turkish universities send the students’ families letters to let them know about the disciplinary issues even if the students are over 18 years old.
The family doctor calls pregnant women’s families to let them know about the situation. These doctors claimed that the Ministry of Health forces them to do everything not to allow young women to have abortions. Also, the ministry asks women if the child was conceived within a marriage or not when a pregnant person goes to a hospital.
The prime minister himself called on people to make their kids select religious lessons as electives. The Ministry of Education will have a list of the kids who will choose religious electives and those who will not.
The Telecommunications Ministry spent hundreds of millions of dollars on internet filters. TTNET asks me if I want to be filtered every week. So they know that I don’t choose to but they are trying to force me to accept it.
The number of people whose phone conversations and mail contents are screened has increased more than 20-fold in the last 10 years.
I can go on with this list forever. I don’t know if any government has been labeling and tracking its citizens as closely as the current government.
Therefore it is really not convincing for me to hear that the law will protect all our private information. If the prime minister wants us to take this seriously he must first clean up his own government and the state institutions.
Otherwise people will go on living, knowing that all their private information is being stored somewhere by the government.
I hope that he can deliver what he says; I hope that the government can walk the walk just as it talks the talk.