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[February 06, 2014]
Turkey's Strict New Internet Laws Criticised
(Sky News (UK) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) The new internet laws will force internet providers to keep records on web users' activities for two years and make them available to authorities without informing the users.
The controversial move has been criticised by European Commission spokesman Peter Stano who said the restrictions - including the blocking of webpages without a court order - raised "serious concerns" and needed "to be revised in line with European standards".
Turkey wants to become a member of the EU.
The introduction of the laws come as PM Recep Tayyip Erdogan is seen as trying to bring the judiciary and police under his control as they investigate a deeply embarrassing corruption case that has seen the dismissal of four government ministers.
This past summer's anti-government protests were largely organised online and people also turned to social media such as Facebook and Twitter for news of the rallies as most media outlets initially shied away from covering the protests.
At the time, the prime minister called Twitter a social "menace".
Opposition MP Faruk Logoglu from the Republican People's Party said the measures were "nothing but a way to intimidate the people, to tell them 'Big Brother is watching you'".
He said it was a "way of suffocating and rendering forgotten" the corruption probe which Mr Erdogan has blamed on allies of a friend-turned-foe Islamic preacher living in self-imposed exile in the US.
The Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe has warned that the curbs could "significantly impact free expression, investigative journalism, the protection of journalists' sources, political discourse and access to information over the Internet".
Reporters Without Borders said the aim was "to reinforce cyber-censorship, government control of the Internet and surveillance".
The Committee to Protect Journalists called it a "slide into Internet authoritarianism" in country that it says is the leading jailer of journalists worldwide.
Yaman Akdeniz, law professor at Bilgi University in Istanbul, said the curbs would have a "chilling effect" in a country where Facebook and Twitter are platforms for political discussion rather than just socialising.
"I would call it an Orwellian nightmare," he said. "Turkey has become a step closer to countries like Iran, Syria and China, rather than moving towards the European Union." The government rejects accusations of censorship, saying the draft bill aims to protect people's privacy.
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(c) Sky News 2014
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