Erdogan passes law tightening Turkey's grip on Internet

September 12, 2014
A computer screen shows a digital portrait of Recep Tayyip Erdogan in Istanbul, on March 27, 2014

Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has approved a bill giving telecoms authorities more power to monitor online users and block websites, the latest move tightening state control over the Internet.

The new measures, contained in a bill that was submitted to parliament by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), come after the introduction of a law in February making it easier for authorities to block access to without a .

This was limited to "attacks on privacy" but the new law, approved late Thursday, strengthens these powers and allows the telecoms authority TIB to block websites "to protect , public order and to prevent crime" without a court order.

Service providers would then have to block the website or remove the content within four hours.

It also allows the TIB to store online communications and traffic data for up to two years, including information on which websites were visited by Internet users and for how long.

Until now, only hosting providers were allowed to store the information. The TIB was able to obtain the data only as part of a criminal investigation or upon a court order.

The law raised eyebrows coming just a week after Turkey hosted a major UN-backed forum on Internet governance, where some participants denounced the Turkish government's "draconian" curbs.

Reporters Without Borders said on Wednesday that it "showed that the Turkish authorities are ready to go even further down the road of Internet censorship".

Recep Tayyip Erdogan's twitter account is seen on a computer screen on March 26, 2014 in Istanbul
"By increasing the possibility of blocking sites in this way, the authorities are yet again reaffirming their determination to control the Internet," it said in a statement.

The main opposition Republican People's Party (CHP) has fiercely opposed the law and has vowed to continue the fight in the Constitutional Court to overturn it.

Erdogan, who was elected president last month after ruling Turkey as premier for over a decade, has made no secret of his disdain for social media, comparing it to a "murderer's knife" and once famously vowing to "wipe out" Twitter.

The government temporarily blocked Twitter and YouTube in March after they were used to spread audio recordings implicating Erdogan and his inner circle in a corruption scandal.

The move sparked outrage both at home and abroad and triggered concerns that Erdogan was seeking to increase his powers to silence critics and accelerate a slide towards authoritarianism.

Explore further: Turkey lifts controversial YouTube ban

Related Stories

'Orwellian' Internet curbs go before Turkish parliament

February 5, 2014

Turkish MPs will debate Wednesday new Internet legislation portrayed by the government as shielding the young from dangerous material but which critics say is a further erosion of personal freedom in the aspiring EU member.

Turkish Internet restrictions raise more concerns (Update)

February 6, 2014

New Internet restrictions approved by parliament are raising concerns the government is trying to control the flow of information amid a corruption scandal, and a senior European official on Thursday called the measures "a ...

Recommended for you

NASA instruments image fireball over Bering Sea

March 22, 2019

On Dec. 18, 2018, a large "fireball—the term used for exceptionally bright meteors that are visible over a wide area—exploded about 16 miles (26 kilometers) above the Bering Sea. The explosion unleashed an estimated 173 ...

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.