Internet, the silence of our friends and death
“In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends” -Martin Luther King Jr.
This is one of my favorite quotes of all time. I remember this quite often when I hear the news about how the government is trying to manipulate social media outlets and when they are establishing new rules and regulations to undermine the qualities of the Internet which enable free speech and the sharing of ideas.
Turkey has more than 20 NGO’s working in the technology field. Up until today, none of them dared to speak out against all the sanctions and wrong-doings of the government. They were completely silent. The silence of our supposed friends was filled with voices by other NGO’s like Yeşilay. Yeşilay was founded to fight against all kinds of abusive and addictive phenomena like gambling, alcohol and drugs.
With the new direction of the government, Yeşilay began working on another menace called the Internet. In 2010, the head of Yeşilay, Muharrem Balcı, wrote an article entitled “The new gift of Internet addiction to our society: Death!” According to him, the Internet is the primary cause of the lack of communication between family members. He also underlines that the Internet is a harbinger of death. Balcı said he heard more and more stories of youngsters who died because of doing things they learned from the Internet. Recently, he heard about a youngster who overdosed on a drug he learned about on the Internet. From this you can realize his understating of Internet addiction is totally different than yours. A kid who only surfs a few hours per day dies of a drug overdose and he blames the Internet for it.
This year the government gave Yeşilay $15 million to fight against Internet addiction. I wish the government could give the same amount to teach kids how to use the Internet for their homework, but my priorities and the priorities of the government rarely match when it comes to the usage of technology.
However, these are the types of things that we are used to hearing every day - we are used to the silence of NGO’s as well – so the declaration of the Turkish Informatics Foundation (TBV) came as a nice surprise.
One day before the vote of confidence was held for four ex-ministers, on Monday, the government silently pushed through a new legislation proposal enabling authorities to shut down any website without a court order at any time. If this new proposal is voted on and accepted, then a few people selected by the government will have the power to shut down any website or service just as they please.
No one took notice of this move. The story of the four ex-ministers was far juicer and scandalous. However, the TBV raised their voice and told the public that this new proposal should never be accepted as legislation. The TBV stated that if the legislation were to be passed as is, the divide between the EU and Turkey would be so big that it will be irreparable. Also, it is written in the TBV’s press release that this move will make it impossible for Turkey to attract any foreign investors to the Internet industry.
It is a warm feeling that a Free Internet still has friends in Turkey. We will see how powerful these voices are in the coming days. If you want to get involved and make friendly voices stronger, go to the TBV’s website now, donate, volunteer or do whatever you can do to lend your support. Show them that if they speak up, you will be right behind them because they too will remember the silence of their friends if you don’t participate now.