Shame on you, Government!

Shame on you, Government!

Turkey is unfortunately nowhere near the top countries when it comes to innovation and R&D output.

There are only a couple of technology firms that can actually contribute to the world like Airties, Turkcell, Nortel Netaş, Karsan and Aselsan. I was very hopeful that with the increasing funding to ICT and R&D this government would enable Turkey to be more innovative. After the events that unfolded in the last couple of months I lost all my hope. It is clear that the government is doing all it can for Turkey to be less creative and innovative.

For years we as technology journalists have been telling the government that the FATİH project is going to be a failure because of the behind the doors agreements and un-transparent tender methodology. Furthermore we have been saying that the focus is too much on the hardware, whereas the content should be finished first. I have written many times that the multi-billion tenders would be a waste of money in a few years if things do not change. In the end the biggest chunk of the $8 billion to be spent was given to a company which is known to be on close terms with the government. The same group paid the biggest amount of money for land that belonged to the government that Turkey has ever seen a few years earlier. Many analysts said that the purchase was illogical. The current owner of the land had said that he paid more than $800 million for a small piece of land to keep it Turkish. I wonder if the Fatih project is the payback because the firm doesn’t have any experience whatsoever in the education business and we have no idea about how they will manage to integrate all of the devices that they didn’t develop into the Turkish education system in a few months.

After the result of the Fatih tender I think that the reliability of the government has taken a big hit, at least in the technology industry.

However for me the last drop is the new Internet law. I am warning you it will be very hard to comprehend for you if this is the first time you are reading about what Turkey has become in the recent months.

The government is getting ready to end all free communication and exchange of information over the internet with a new set of laws.

For years the government has been trying to filter everything over the internet but it couldn’t do it. First of all the Turkish government tried but could not succeed in writing the code for a filtering system like the Chinese. At least the former minister said that they were trying to create a national filtration system for national internet. Secondly people did not opt for the filtering system of TTNET willingly. The government couldn’t close down websites as fast as it wanted to because they needed a court order.

Furthermore the government couldn’t track conversations freely both because of its technical inabilities and also we were protected by law to some degree.

Now, ingeniously, the government is putting all the heavy work onto the telecommunication companies.

TİB ( Telekomunikasyon İletişim Başkanlığı - the Presidency of Telecommunication, communication that came into existence in 2005 will decide which website to close down and order the ISP’s to do their bidding without any court order. If you are the owner of a website and it is blocked by TİB you will be entitled to prove innocence and TİB will not liable for any damages that is caused by their decision. TİB members will be selected from anywhere and their salaries won’t have a ceiling. It means that the member will do whatever the government says not to lose the lucrative salaries.

I feel shame as a free minded person for the actions of the government. I hope that they are feeling the same thing.