Turkish government seeks legal power to shut down any website in four hours

o13-iconSemih Idiz writes: Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has tried hard to bring the Turkish media under government control, succeeding to a significant extent by getting crony businessmen to buy major national dailies and television channels.

Turkey has nevertheless remained an open society to a large extent with regard to the flow of information to the public, due not only to the independent portion of the media that continues to resist government pressures but also the Internet, and particularly social media.

It is no surprise then that the Internet should have become the bane of Erdogan’s life, particularly after taped conversations implicating him and members of his government in massive corruption allegations started appearing on video sharing sites.

Kadri Gursel’s March 7 post for Al-Monitor gives details about a voice recording leaked in this way, which has provided more fodder for his political rivals just as his Justice and Development Party (AKP) heads for crucial local elections at the end of this month.

Erdogan’s troubles with social media began after last summer’s Gezi Park protests in Istanbul, and the following nationwide anti-government riots during which many people were mobilized through Twitter, the social networking service.

“There is now a scourge called Twitter. The biggest lies can be found there. This thing called social media is currently the worst menace to society,” Erdogan complained bitterly on June 2, 2013.

Aware of the growing political threat to itself from social media, the Erdogan government introduced a draconian Internet law that effectively allows the head of Turkish Telecommunications Directorate (TIB), a government appointee, to close down any Internet site in four hours. [Continue reading…]

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