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Growing the Internet 12 April 2015

22 Years of The Internet in Turkey

Ceren Ünal
By Ceren ÜnalFormer Regional Policy Manager - Europe

Did you know that April 12th 2015 is the 22nd anniversary of the first Internet connection in Turkey?

As we look back on the past 22 years, there’s been great progress, but there’s still a lot of work to be done when it comes to law and policy – particularly with regard to internet freedoms.

Let’s take a look at some of the most significant events of the past few years:

Law No 5651

Known as Law No 5651 of the Regulation of Online Publications and Combatting CyberCrimes, this law introduced a simple way to block access to web content. Its implementation has resulted in rather unfortunate blocking orders (such as the infamous YouTube ban for almost two years).

Gezi Park Protests

On May 28th 2013, protests that contested the urban development plan for Istanbul’s Taksim Gezi Park. Social media played a key part.

Since this time – law No 5651 has been amended two times to bring even more restrictions.

The first was made in February 2014. It was during this time that the government officially declared social media as an enemy and detained several individuals based on the posts they shared on their personal Twitter and Facebook accounts.

March 2015

The second amendment, which has yet to be made official, came on 27 March 2015. Its purpose is to help ministers and the prime minister directly to give instant blocking orders for websites and provide simple ways for blocking online content on the grounds of national security and crime prevention.

Just last Monday, the news broke that Twitter, Facebook and YouTube were blocked in the country by a court order because of the online publication of the photographs of a prosecutor taken hostage at his office in the courthouse and then killed. The ban was implemented by a number of the country’s leading ISPs on the same afternoon but lifted later that day when the pictures were taken down. While, the immediate problem seems to be solved, you can’t help but being concerned for the future of internet freedoms.

This Brings Us To A Question:

What kind of an Internet we want for our country and how to achieve a sustainable, free and accessible Internet for all? How can we find the balance between protecting internet rights and freedoms and ALSO preventing privacy violations and cybercrimes?

An Event To Celebrate and To Move Forward

To help answer that and to celebrate the internet’s birthday in Turkey, Internet Society’s Turkey Chapter is organizing an event to bring a people together to honour the past, discuss the current issues, and take action for the future.

Hopefully, the event would contribute to this discussion and come up with answers for Turkey, a developing country with huge potential

For the first part of the event, the story of the first connection in 1993 will be told by Mustafa Akgul and Attila Ozgit, two of the internet pioneers that played a major role in the first connection and the development of internet in the country.

We’re excited to announce the session will be recorded for a documentary in development that we commissioned on the history of internet in the country, hopefully to be shared soon.

After having a look at the past, we’ll have a panel discussion on current Internet related issues. Here’s who is scheduled to take part:

  • Gokhan Ahi (law practice),
  • Hakan Akan (private sector),
  • Rifat Bayatlioglu (ISPs),
  • Erkan Saka (civil society and media)
  • moderated by Yavuz Gunalay (academia)

In addition to all of this have I mentioned there will be cake? It’s a birthday party after all . . .

Photo: “Istanbul” Imir Kamberi CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

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Disclaimer: Viewpoints expressed in this post are those of the author and may or may not reflect official Internet Society positions.

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