Turkish police break up protest against law curbing Internet

Turkish police break up protest against law curbing Internet

Turkish police break up protest against law curbing Internet

AA Photo

Riot police fired plastic bullets, tear gas and water cannons at hundreds of people in Istanbul protesting a government plan to expand controls over the public's use of the Internet on Jan. 18.

Police took action after some protesters hurled firebombs at officers. Plainclothes police were seen arresting some demonstrators and escorting them to police vehicles. There weren't any immediate reports of injuries.

Police broke up groups of protesters who gathered at the city's main hub, Taksim, and along a main street to denounce the draft bill that would allow Turkey's telecommunications authority to block websites or remove content accused of privacy violations without a court decision, and force service providers to keep Internet users' data for two years.

The bill that includes the controversial law was approved by Parliament on Jan. 16 as many groups, including Turkey’s top business association TÜSİAD, slammed the government’s move as an attempt to curb individual freedoms.

Transport and Communication Minister Lütfi Elvan had dismissed the “censorship” accusations, arguing similar regulations existed in many Western countries. He also assured that pages will be blocked only when there is a violation on privacy.

During Saturday's protest, demonstrators shouted slogans calling on the government to resign over the scandal and held up signs that read: "Don't touch my Internet."

Hundreds of people held a similar protest in the capital, Ankara. No violence was reported.

The European Court of Human Rights has said that Turkey's existing Internet regulations were against freedom of expression. Around 40,000 websites - many of them pornographic sites - are blocked in Turkey, according to Engelli Web, a site which monitors banned websites.