Demonstrators take to streets across Turkey to protest Internet bans


Demonstrators march during a protest against internet censorship in ?stanbul May 15, 2011.
Demonstrators have staged protests across Turkey targeting a new regulation that critics say will place Turkey among the world’s top Internet censoring countries.
The Information Technologies and Communications Authority (BTK) regulation, titled “Procedures and Principles Regarding the Safe Use of the Internet,” is set to come into effect on Aug. 22. According to critics, the day will mark the “death of the Internet” in Turkey.
The regulation brings four compulsory filtering options to Turkey’s Internet users. The filters are “family,” “child,” “domestic” and “standard.” The criteria by which websites will be filtered will be determined by the BTK. Circumventing these measures will be considered a crime and anyone doing so or attempting to do so will face heavy fines. Many websites are expected to be blocked by the filters irrespective of their content.
Protesters organized on social networking sites such as Facebook coordinated demonstrations in dozens of provinces on Sunday. They held posters reading “Don’t touch my Internet!” during a march down ?stanbul’s ?stiklal Street, which was attended by thousands. In addition to street protests, about 600,000 people joined campaigns launched online to protest the new regulation.

Hundreds of demonstrators gathered on Ankara’s Sakarya Street shouted slogans such as “The Internet is ours and will remain so” and “The Internet is everything for us.” Emrah Erdo?an, who read out a statement on behalf of the group, said access to the Internet is a matter of human rights and that restrictions imposed on Internet access are an assault on freedoms.

He said the BTK regulation was “unlawful” and “arbitrary” and aimed at introducing a mechanism of “censorship” on the use of the Internet.

The BTK has denied accusations of Internet censorship and said Internet users will not be obliged to choose one of the filtering options proposed in the new regulation, arguing instead that the new filtering system was introduced due to requests from Internet users.

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