Over the weekend demonstrators staged protests across Turkey targeting new regulations that bring four filtering options to Turkey’s Internet users.
Some nongovernmental organizations believe that a new regulation that will bring four compulsory filtering options to Turkey’s Internet users will help reduce some cyber crime, including online prostitution, gambling, sale of drugs and child pornography.
The regulation, which belongs to the Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK), is set to come into effect on Aug. 22. The filters to be introduced by the regulation are “family,” “child,” “domestic” and “standard.” The criteria by which websites will be filtered will be determined by the BTK. Circumventing these measures will be considered a crime and anyone doing so will face heavy fines.
According to some critics, the regulation will mark the “death of the Internet” in Turkey. Some others, on the other hand, say that it will help fight and reduce cyber crimes. Yasemin Çoban, a board member of the Association for the Protection and Support of Family (AKODER), said the BTK regulation will not introduce a mechanism of censorship on the use of the Internet. Rather, it is aimed at protecting children and families. “I met over 30,000 people in the past six years [who complain about the harm of unsupervised use of the Internet.] None of them told me that they would like their children to have access to any website they wish. We need to end freedoms at a point when they threaten our children or family values. If the BTK does not do this [for the Internet,] how will we protect our children as parents?” Çoban asked.
The BTK has denied accusations of Internet censorship and said Internet users will not be obliged to choose one of the filtering options proposed in the new regulation, arguing instead that the new filtering system was introduced due to requests for Internet users.
According to Muharrem Balcı, president of Green Crescent (Yeşilay), formed to fight the spread of alcoholism, smoking and drug abuse, the use of Internet filters will help prevent both child pornography and other cyber crimes. “People have no right to give harm to others or themselves. We cannot consider access to addictive websites that have harmful content as part of personal freedoms. The Internet filters will not only help fight child pornography but also online gambling and prostitution,” he said. Balcı also noted that the use of Internet filters will help parents protect their children against the harmful content of websites.
President of the Internet Cafes Association (TİEV) Yusuf Andıç stated that the BTK regulation should not be made an “instrument for political debate.” He said the new regulation has turned into a crisis as the BTK failed to successfully manage the process. He suggested that a “single-type Internet” would solve the crisis. “If there is single-type Internet, everyone will purchase it. Then there will be no filters. Citizens will be responsible for the use of the Internet,” he added.