Turkey hosts Internet Governance Forum despite questionable record
‘The Internet is abused by criminal networks, terrorist organizations, drug smugglers and child abusers,’ Minister Lütfi Elvan says. DHA photo
Turkey has begun hosting the ninth annual meeting of the Internet Governance Forum, a United Nations-mandated organization, despite a number of recent controversies regarding the country's Internet freedom record.
Speaking at the event Sept. 2, Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication Lütfi Elvan focused mainly on the issues of “cybercrimes.”
“The Internet is abused by criminal networks, terrorist organizations, drug smugglers and child abusers. Sadly, the rampant abuse of the Internet has reached undesirable heights,” Elvan said.
His speech, which opened the summit, focused on “providing developing countries with the same opportunity as wealthier nations to engage in the debate on Internet governance and to facilitate their participation in existing institutions and arrangements.”
Turkey has been heavily criticized for having a stranglehold on freedom of speech on the Internet, reflected in the high-profile government bans applied on Twitter and YouTube earlier this year.
Amnesty International has released a statement criticizing the organizers for choosing Turkey to host the four-day event, due to the country’s questionable record.
“The Turkish government’s prosecution of Twitter critics is a deeply hypocritical stance for the host of the Internet Governance Forum,” Amnesty International said.
“The organization calls on future hosts to set a better example, while highlighting violations of Internet freedom by the U.S., Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and Vietnam,” it added.
Speaking at a parallel panel at Istanbul's Bilgi University on Sept. 2, Neelie Kroes, the vice president of the EU Commission leading the Digital Agenda policy, criticized the YouTube and Twitter bans in Turkey, while also praising the Constitutional Court for overturning them.