New Turkish Internet law to deepen censorship and increase surveillance: HRW

Tue 16 September 2014 06:50 GMT | 11:50 Local Time

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A new law adopted on Sept. 10 introduces two new measures increasing the powers of the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB), a regulatory body whose head is appointed by the government.

New legal amendments giving the Turkish authorities broad powers to block websites and to amass users’ Internet activity data should be overturned, Human Rights Watch said Sept. 15, Hurriyet Daily reports.

The new measures deepen existing Internet censorship in Turkey, increase surveillance of Internet users, and violate privacy, it said.

“After hosting the 2014 Internet Governance Forum, Prime Minister [Ahmet] Davutoğlu’s new government has adopted even more provisions to restrict free speech online and the privacy of internet users,” said Emma Sinclair-Webb, senior Turkey researcher at Human Rights Watch. “These measures would violate basic rights protected in the Constitution and guaranteed under international law and should be struck down.”

A new law adopted on Sept. 10 introduces two new measures increasing the powers of the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB), a regulatory body whose head is appointed by the government. In July, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, then the prime minister, stated that the directorate should be run by the National Intelligence Agency (MİT), and the current TİB head is a former MİT operative.

The first measure allows the TİB to order closure of sites within four hours for reasons of “national security, to protect public order, or to prevent a crime from being committed.” The order must be submitted to court within 24 hours, and the court must uphold or overturn the order within 48 hours.

“The retention of metadata by the TİB is deeply worrying because it gives the body the direct capacity to conduct surveillance on people’s Internet use,” Sinclair-Webb said. “The Turkish government very publicly champions the privacy rights of politicians but it doesn’t believe in ordinary people’s right to privacy.”

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