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POLITICS > Turkish PM might shut down Facebook and YouTube ‘if needed’

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Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to the popular microblogging website Twitter as a 'troublemaker' during the Gezi protests. AA photo

Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan referred to the popular microblogging website Twitter as a 'troublemaker' during the Gezi protests. AA photo

Dogged by accusations of corruption, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has threatened to shut down Facebook and YouTube “if necessary” via a controversial recent law, vowing that he "would not sacrifice the Turkish people" to the two websites. In stark contrast, President Abdullah Gül said a ban of Facebook and YouTube was "out of question."

“Some known circles immediately rebelled against this Internet law. We have done everything that we could do up to now, but there are some other steps that we can take after the [local elections on] March 30. We are determined, we won’t let the Turkish people be sacrificed to YouTube and Facebook,” Erdoğan said during a live interview on private broadcaster ATV late March 6.

“Whatever step is necessary, we will take it in the most precise way, including shutting down [both websites] because those people incite any kind of immorality or espionage for the profit of these institutions. There can be no such mentality of freedom,” he added.

President Abdullah Gül, however, said on March 7 that both websites could not be unplugged.

"The closure of them is out of the question," Abdullah Gül, an enthousiastic social media user, told reporters when asked about Erdoğan's comments, adding that under a recently passed law authorities could block access to material on such sites if a person's privacy is violated.

"Both are very important platforms. We always take a pride in enlarging freedoms," Gül said.

Crime in real life is also crime in ‘virtual life’

Meanwhile, Transport and Communication Minister Lütfi Elvan backed Erdoğan’s statements, stressing that any crime in real life would be counted as a crime in people’s “virtual life.”

“There will be insults as never seen before against a country’s president and prime minister. Some illegal footage will be released. And then, we will have to stomach it. This is not possible,” Elvan said March 7.

“Nor it is allowed in any country in the world. The opposition should also speak out on this. But unfortunately, they use all of this as a political tool,” Elvan said.

The leaks online came after the adoption of a restrictive bill on the Internet paving the way for the Telecommunications Board (TİB) to shut down websites on the grounds of privacy violations.

The loudly decried bill was amended after suggestions from President Abdullah Gül to impose juridical monitoring of TİB’s decisions, which was not included in the initial bill.

March/07/2014

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