Turkish Citizens Take To The Streets Over Internet Freedoms

Outrage and concern finally boiled over in Istanbul on Saturday as thousands took to the streets in protest of Turkey’s Internet Censorship policy.

Physical protests of Internet policy are really a never-before-seen occurance, even with all the twists and turns of cyberspace regulation that have occurred in the past decade. While the protests thankfully remained peaceful, they drove home a strong point of disapproval to the Turkish government that will hopefully be heard and acknowledged.

The direct law in question is number 5651 which is the foundation for Turkish Internet censorship policy. This law has been a launching point for a concerning increase in censorship in the past few years. From the initial ban of YouTube in 2007 all the way through the wide-spread IP blocking that crippled Google services in Turkey, politicians have used this law as a crutch to support any claim trying to limit Internet access for Turkish citizens.

This is not the first time though that this law has been met with challenges from within Turkey. Earlier this summer, hackers launched an Internet attack against some government websites that represented the organizations responsible for the censorship. The most shocking protest was actually just before that, when the President of Turkey himself Tweeted his disapproval of the ways that Turkey was censoring the net.

Photo: CyberLaw Blog

This rise in frequency of protests for Turkey is really unexpected and nothing quite like it has yet happened in other nations who practice Internet censorship. There is substantial hope that this increase in the vocalization of dislike towards the current policies will incite some change and that other nations with similar policies will start to experience similar responses from their citizens. Whether or not this most recent protest will catalyze change in Turkey is unclear, but the Turkish government needs to take this historic event seriously unless it wants to see its people get even angrier and take more rash means of protest. As it stands though, the people of Turkey deserve substantial respect for their ability to continue to peacefully yet firmly express their anger through protest and we can only hope that the government becomes more realistic with its views on censoring the web.

About the Author: Alex Fayette

Alex is a Junior at Yale University who is currently an intern with the Berkman Center for Internet and Society @ Harvard Law School. His focus this summer is with Herdict.org and also with other Berkman projects falling under the Freedom of Expression umbrella. He is majoring in Economics and Physics, and loves singing and aviation on the side.

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