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ERSU ABLAK > The cost of one signature

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A signature is one of the most personal things that you can have. There are people who can tell you what kind of a person you are just by examining your signature. I choose to understand what kind of a person someone who signed something is, not by the calligraphic qualities, but by the content of that which is signed. On Tuesday night I understood what kind of a person our President Gül really is after his signed under the new Internet law. I was hopeful that he would not sign it, as there was considerable public distress. However, he signed it after the government compromised a little.

 “I am pleased to see that concerns regarding these two articles will be addressed with a new legal arrangement tomorrow [Feb. 19]. In order that those arrangements be quickly implemented, I approved the law as soon as I returned from Hungary,” Gül said, but the main problems still remain.

With the new law our government has the power to ban any website at will in four hours after the initial complaint. In the original version, the government wanted the TİB to be untouchable and immune to judicial action. In the version that has been accepted, at least they can be held accountable for any damage they might inflict on people or businesses.

This actually changes nothing. Just think about it. You own a website and it is closed down for months after a dubious decision based on a single person’s complaint without any court order. Since you earn your income through the website, you go bankrupt if it’s closed. What good would it do to you that the members of the telecommunications authority (TİB) were found guilty, since you are bankrupt and have lost your livelihood? Mind you, we live in a country where police can kill a person in broad daylight and get away with it. I cannot imagine any member of the TİB being prosecuted and found guilty under the current administration.

The new Internet law will cost Turkey a lot. It will cost dearly in the entrepreneurship circles, as no one will ever want to invest in a country where any website can be closed down in four hours without any prior notice. It will cost us dearly, as many opposition figures will be accused of being porno lovers. I am 100 percent sure that any erotic website that will be visited by anyone who is a bit against the government will be kept on papers. They will attack personal space vigorously. If you have any doubts, just look at all the videos and phone conversations that are in circulation. The new Internet law will cost us dearly in terms of money, too. The government asks for all the filtering and archiving to be done by the Internet service providers. This means that we as citizens will pay for our own cages.

Our president’s signature was not only under the new Internet law on Tuesday night. He also signed for the funding of a new Cyber Security Institution. It will oversee all the efforts against cyber threats.

This was on the agenda right after Red Hack became very popular among anti-government groups. It will probably go after Red Hack first.

As I wrote in the beginning, a signature is very important. It is also very valuable and teaches us about people. I don’t know if Abdullah Gül is fully aware of all the costs that his signature will create, but many of us are now aware of where he stands on freedom of speech and communication, thanks to one little signature that will never be forgotten.

February/20/2014

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