2014 has been a turbulent year for the Internet in Turkey. Some say that a corruption scandal is at the heart of attempts to restrict free speech in Turkey by President Abdullah Gul and Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan. The implications for Turkish Internet users are significant.
Turkey’s history of Web censorship
Internet censorship in Turkey is nothing new. Like many Muslim countries, Turkey has long banned individuals from accessing various Internet content such as dating sites and sites that promote gay and lesbian culture. These recent efforts at censorship are more directed toward political and news websites that are considered favorable to Turkish militants who oppose Gul’s strong-arm tactics.
Beginning in 2012, Google began to receive an increased number of requests from the Turkish government to restrict content. During the first six months of 2013, Google was asked to delete more than 12,000 items, making Turkey the No. 1 country that seeks to remove content from Google. With the passage of new President Gul’s new legislation, that number is only expected to rise throughout the remainder of 2014. more
Turkish Internet restriction as part of a cover-up
Prime Minister Erdogan, the principal player in the new Turkish Internet legislation, is embroiled in a corruption scandal that involves himself and various members of his cabinet. The accusations leveled at the administration include bid-rigging and money laundering. Erdogan was captured on tape in January of 2014 offering to ease zoning restrictions for a Turkish tycoon in exchange for two spacious villas. The recording was leaked via the Internet website SoundCloud.
Most opponents of Internet censorship claim that Erdogan’s new law is an effort to cover-up further instances of unethical behavior by restricting the ability of social media and news websites to report on alleged corruption.
Turkish privacy in the crosshairs
The new Internet regulations enacted by the Turkish government are designed to give the government more control over restricting Web content, but they also make provisions that would allow the government to increase its powers to spy on Internet users. The new law permits eavesdropping and the collection of Internet users’ browsing histories.
Those who monitor issues related to Internet privacy throughout the world are concerned that Turkey’s actions further reinforce the dangerous precedent of data collection that has been adopted by many other countries, even those that are considered bastions of liberty like the United States, in the name of national security. It is a stark reminder of how easily something as noble as protecting a country’s interest can be co-opted and used for the purpose of weakening the personal security and privacy of its own citizens.
Turkish Internet users have always had to contend with censorship. Now they must also contend with the possibility that their social media and other Web conversations are being monitored for any activity that is considered a threat to the existing government.
The increasing importance of VPN’s
The events in Turkey are not just a wake-up call to Turkish citizens. They should be considered important to anyone who values Internet privacy and freedom. As more laws like the one in Turkey are enacted throughout the world, governments become bolder and empowered in their efforts to control the Internet. As this happens, more and more people turn to a VPN from VPNaccounts.com as a way to preserve their security and free speech.
Access to reliable news and the opinions of political dissidents has always been important to preserving liberty. Using a VPN in Turkey, and in other parts of the world, can allow citizens to maintain their connection to resources that keep them abreast of efforts to censor their personal freedom.