Can Turkey Lock Down the Internet?
Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:
Turkey’s Minister of Transportation, Maritime and Communications, Lutfi Elvan, says there is now a possibility of replacing the global www standard with a nationally locked ttt protocol. He claims this is not only happening in Turkey but is a widely discussed issue among EU authorities as well.
According to him, due to lack of infrastructure Turkey has been experiencing several misunderstandings with Twitter management over the past year, and evoked the possibility of creating a national Internet protocol as a possible solution.
Elvan also referred to the United Nations and said “the Internet should have a constitution much like the UN charter, declaring all rights and responsibilities and not rely only on the American laws which cover the majority of these social media companies. We need a one and united law regulating the Internet globally, otherwise states can create their national Internet protocols to sustain their safety. This has been discussed for a long time; we can create a protocol of ttt and separate Turkish users from the others, make it impossible for them to reach other systems.”
This attitude of creating a national Internet protocol aims to isolate a country from the rest of the world and block access to platforms which serve as a virtual public space where one can express feelings and opinions, and be heard globally. This blocking access to the global village of the Internet will initially create discontent among users, but the problem would begin when people start getting used to it. On the other hand this statement by the minister also reminds us all of the Vice-Prime Minister’s statement during the Gezi Park protests: “We could have shut down all access to the Internet if we wanted… but we didn’t, so you can see that we had good will.”
Would it really work?
Serhat Ayan of the TKNLJ and Pirate Party of Turkey has evaluated this statement and explained the facts behind the creation of a national restricted Internet protocol.
He states that the world has never ever discussed the creation of a new Internet; on the other hand there have been discussions focusing on the diversification of the present one. In doing this the main demand is for ICANN – the institution that manages Web site domain names – to listen to comments more and become more transparent.
There is absolutely no talk of changing the system as a whole because there is disrespect of international legal norms. Because Internet surveillance is being carried out – unlike the Turkish attempt – through international law. In order for all these laws to be understood in the same manner throughout the world, they are coded as widely as possible, including all international norms.
Establishing a national protocol would not actually mean that these social-media platforms would care more for the national legislation. The norm followed for managing social media, freedom of speech and access to information is the international law that is much wider than national legislation, which might sometimes be over-protective or restrictive.
It would not really matter which country a company may be established in; it would have to follow international law in order to succeed in the global market. However this attempt to create a closed-border Internet protocol on a national scale has been tried out by Iran, and it would be quite easy to see the results of Iran’s experiences of isolationism, censorship, and surveillance.
The creation of a national Internet protocol could in fact be seen as synonymous with saying that the state is terrified of its citizens and knows of no other way of forcing them to not express their opinion freely. As the self-censorship agenda seems to have failed and more and more people are becoming critical of their government and do not refrain from openly criticizing it, states such as AKP’s Turkey will need to take a look in the mirror and decide whether they wish to go against democratic principles in defiance of a large part of the society that demands them.
More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com
More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/
Photo by Dakotilla under Creative commons license