ERSU ABLAK - March/29/2012
I value the insight that is provided by institutions like Reporters Without Borders. They tend to have a universal set of values and those values tend to match with those that I have for myself, such as a belief in democracy, freedom of speech and self-governance. Reporters Without Borders declared that Turkey had a similar level of Internet Censorship to the United States in 2008. I was really disappointed as I thought that the level of censorship was already unbearable back then. In their 2012 report, however, Turkey is listed a step worse in the category of those that need to be watched.
The report starts with a fact: As of Feb. 10, 2012, the website engelliweb.com had tallied 15,596 sites suspended by the authorities, either by court order, or by decision of Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) – a number double what it was last year. It goes on with the new filtering system and the content in the banned websites. The report also states the failure of the central filtering mechanism as less than 50,000 Internet users registered to use the service out of the more than 11 million people who use the web in Turkey.
These types of reports are very useful for pro-freedom Internet users in Turkey as they give a solid background for their protests. However, I believe that the international community is always a bit slow to really see and understand the full dimensions of the problem.
If Reports Without Borders really took time to examine the situation in Turkey, I believe that the country would be on the Internet enemies list along with China and Iran.
The failure of the central filtering system should have been a very clear sign to policy-makers that the average Turkish Internet user can take care of himself/herself in the virtual world. But it made the policy-makers even more aggressive. They aired even more advertisements in vain. In the end, it is our money that the authorities spend to make us agree on censoring our Internet. After millions of dollars spent for nothing, they decided it was time for a smear campaign.
An ICT commission was founded recently by the Turkish Parliament. As a naive person, I thought that it was a step for progress, that finally we would have people who actually know what they’re doing when writing laws about the Internet. I couldn’t have been more wrong. In its first meeting, the only piece of information that made the headlines was the claim that over 2 million Turkish people watch porn at any given second. I have no idea how they came up with that statistic, but I know that absolutely no one in Parliament has any business worrying about what people watch at their own expense.
This commission founded with our tax money suggested that families should only allow children to connect to the net in the living room, where all eyes can see what they are doing.
I beg the authorities to stop spending our hard-earned money and get their noses out of our Internet. It would have been more beneficial for the country if the money would have instead been used to connect more homes to the Internet instead of spending large amounts of it coming up with genius ideas like moving the Internet from children’s rooms to the living room.