‘Internet access will only be blocked if privacy is breached,’ Turkish minister assures
The minister argued that similar regulation existed in many Western countries and could not be described as “censorship.” AA PhotoA new government bill raising concerns over curbs on internet freedoms only seeks to block access to pages when there is a violation on privacy, Transport and Communication Minister Lütfi Elvan assured Jan. 14.
“With the new legal arrangement, we intend to protect individual rights. Let’s say one of our citizens has become a victim [of a privacy breach]. He won’t have to wait for an answer from the provider of the content. He can directly apply to the court for it,” Elvan said during a Parliamentary debate on yet another controversial move from the government.
The minister argued that similar regulation existed in many Western countries and could not be described as “censorship.”
“This legal arrangement is by no means a regulation that brings censorship. It is one that helps [Turkey] to reach the standards of developed countries and makes the present law more functional,” Elvan said.
Despite the positive picture painted by Elvan, the draft law had stirred considerable debate as it would enhance monitoring any internet user’s activities as well as allow officials to limit keywords more easily. In other words, access to videos on video-sharing websites such as YouTube that include keywords deemed problematic by Turkish authorities will be very easily blocked.
Elvan also explained how the procedure of “limiting access” would work during his address.
“This will only be against the violation of individual rights. As soon as the court will rule, it will send the decision to the access providers union who will warn web providers. Then, the union will ensure content is erased in four hours,” he said.
The law will also give the head of Turkey’s Directorate of Telecommunication (TİB) enough authority to directly limit access, pending a court ruling.
“Limiting access without a court order is ruled out, hence there is no question of censorship,” Elvan added.
Groups who came out against the move included Turkey’s powerful top business group TÜSİAD, whose head Muharrem Yılmaz described the move as a “violation of rights.”
The fresh bill could also revive the activism against authorities’ grip on the internet, as several demonstrations using the slogan “don’t touch to my internet” had previously attracted thousands of protesters.
Among other websites, Turkey had banned access to YouTube for over two years, drawing huge criticism inside and outside the country.