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The bans in Turkey of Facebook, YouTube, and Twitter have raised a lot of questions. The most recent is a question of the legality of increasing Twitter censorship. The government did approve the move to develop greater censorship capabilities. But legal experts believe that Prime Minister Erdogan is using it for political gain.
Bans Before Elections
The recent Turkey website bans have been under a lot of suspicion. The elections in Turkey will take place at the end of the month. And some information was leaked about Turkey government corruption. Shortly after, Erdogan started threatening to ban social media sites. Legal experts suspect that the bans are designed to censor this type of information because of the upcoming elections.
The government modified their law on online communications so they could develop greater Internet content control. The amendments to Law No 5651 allow the Turkish government to make all the decisions on blocking websites. The parliament claimed that the modifications were to protect the privacy and rights of individuals. But the unregulated censorship power of the government is now being used to hide certain information from Turkish voters. There was no court order issued for the complete Twitter ban.
Turkey has been censoring the Internet since 2007 when the regulation that governs online communications was passed. In the seven years since, about 40,000 websites have been censored in the country. They now have even more power and less controls on what can be censored. But Bilgi University law professor Yaman Akdeniz says that even so, there really is no legal justification for the Twitter ban. The Turkish Telecommunications Presidency has clearly exceeded its powers in this case. The Union of Turkish Bar Associations agrees, and has petitioned the Istanbul Heavy Penal Court to review the ban. Their head Metin Feyzioğlu commented that the Twitter ban is a violation of the Turkish Constitution, the European Convention on Human Rights, and Law 5651 itself.
Twitter VPN Services Become Popular with Turkish ResidentsFor years, residents of Turkey have been using Twitter VPN services like ExpressVPN to circumvent website blocks. Now that Facebook, YouTube and now Twitter are inaccessible, Twitter VPN services have become very popular. The people want to know what is going on, especially when elections are near. Allegations of corruption is a serious issue to review before making decisions on succeeding leadership. Furthermore, the decision to block Twitter completely was made by the prime minister. There was no judicial process to support it. Now people are even more curious about the content that Erdogan wants to block. This is the reason for the surge in popularity of Twitter VPN services.
The Turkish government decided to block Twitter because Twitter did not remove content when local court orders requested it. The Turkish Telecommunications Presidency, called TIB, justified the complete block because of this. The government claims that they have sent Twitter hundreds of content requests. But there are only four on record in their database. The people do not appreciate this manipulation and want to be able to read reports and decide for themselves what to make of them. Twitter VPN services have given them the freedom to browse the content that gives them the information they need to do this.
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