Perennial EU membership aspirant unlikely to relent anytime soon
Not all that long ago, Turkey was this increasingly progressive EU membership hopeful that Internet censorship watchdogs around the world weren’t overly concerned about; despite Internet censorship being very tangible, the general outlook, if not exactly positive, wasn't alarmingly negative, either. All that has changed dramatically in the past couple of months, first with the enactment of a new Internet censorship law and then with premier Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s open vow to “eradicate Twitter.”
Almost immediately after the the prime minister's open threat, the country on Thursday began blocking the popular microblogging platform Twitter, with the site’s visitors being redirected to a statement by the country’s telecommunications regulator, TIB, citing a number of court orders as the basis for the ban.
The ban, as later confirmed in a statement from Erdogan’s office, came after Twitter was widely used to share a series of incriminating audio tapes containing allegedly wiretapped conversations in which Erdogan and his son Bilal can be heard discussing ways to smuggle ill-begotten cash out of the country. The prime minister contends that the audio tapes are fake.
“Twitter has been used as a means to carry out systematic character assassinations by circulating illegally acquired recordings, fake and fabricated records of wiretapping,” the prime minister's office said in a statement on Saturday.
As is usually the case with such actions, the ban seems to be producing almost the opposite of its intended effect, with Twitter usage witnessing a sharp spike in that country. However, the Turkish government is unlikely to relent anytime soon and is now blocking the microblogging site at the IP level in order to make it even harder for the country’s netizens to defy the ban.
Even though Erdogan made it amply clear on Thursday that he didn’t care what the international community thought, the ban has drawn a lot of criticism from around the globe, including the U.S. State Department: “Every day, governments around the world devote precious resources to Internet censorship. It is 21st Century book-burning - and it doesn’t make anyone stronger.”