By Ceylan Ozbudak
15 February 2014
In times like this, I feel the need to recall the famous saying of Mark Twain; “When a person cannot deceive himself, the chances are against his being able to deceive others.” This explains the situation and the outcry from AK Party opponents in Turkey after the latest polls all showed the party in the lead once again in terms of popularity.
When looking at the latest opposition to the new internet legislation, the protests against it, the fake branding of the act as “censorship” and using it as an excuse to internationally attack the AK Party, I also want to remind my readers of the valuable words of Eric Hoffer; “Propaganda does not deceive people; it merely helps them to deceive themselves.”
The amendments and arrangements in regard to the “Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Suppression of Crimes Committed by means of Such Publication” which is commonly known as the “internet bill” was approved by the parliament last week in Turkey.
Protests followed this step and we have seen people on the streets chanting “no censorship on the internet,” which reminded me of 2011, when people were chanting the same slogans but soon afterwards, it was clear as day that Turkey was not limiting the internet and that this was only a tempest in a teapot.
From now on, the Internet Service Providers Association will function in the form of a coordination council facilitating coordination between Internet service providers and other management that provides Internet services.
This way, a framework will be generated for the ones “dealing” in the virtual world enabling them to function better and creating an authority that internet users could appeal to. Internet users will be able to contact the service providers in this association directly regarding content they have complaints about.
This regulation is obviously vital in terms of the confidentiality of private life in the light of the occurrences of the last three months. By means of the amendment in the law, the individual believing his privacy to have been violated is given the right of appealing to the service provider or the Chairman of the Criminal Court of Peace.
The main aspect that differentiates it from prior provisions is enforcement of a 24-hour period for the jurisdiction to rectify the sufferings that used to arise due to delay of judgment.
If there is any delay in judgment, the Presidency of the Telecommunications and Communications (TIB) will be able to hold a direct prosecution based on its authority to block content.
This is important to understand: THE SITE WILL NOT BE SHUT DOWN, BUT THE CONTENT WILL BE BLOCKED TEMPORARILY. If a person feels the content should not be blocked, then objecting to this decision is possible through appealing to the court. A FINAL DECREE WILL BE ESTABLISHED BY THE JURISDICTION.
I consider acceleration of the decision making process in question to be obligatory for preserving the principles of the confidentiality of private life under the assurance of Article 20 of the Turkish Constitution, particularly these days when it has become frighteningly easy for some people on social media to threaten reputed people whose opinion they do not approve of with “exposing their private lives.”
For example, the address of Foreign Minister Davutoglu was shared on Twitter during the Gezi protests and people were called on to raid his house; the content stayed there for days and created a threat to him and his family for a considerable time.
Since the website in question will not be blocked in its entirety but only the relevant web page or the URL that is the subject of the complaint will be removed, this will prevent harsh court decisions like the blocking of the entirety of YouTube based on “defamation against Atatürk” between 2008-2010 (through the complaints of today’s opposition, the secular groups),
Presenting the two-year term for storing of internet data to be an act of profiling is a serious misapprehension. This regulation was instituted based on the existing Article 6 of the 2006/24/EC directive of the European Parliament and Council and it is a part of the regulations of EU member countries, which does not incorporate the content of users.
Actually, THE TERM FOR STORING INTERNET DATA IS LONGER IN MANY EUROPEAN COUNTRIES. Does it still look like censorship to you? To me it looks like an excuse to go out into the streets and burn things behind barricades to annoy the government. It doesn’t look like ”striving for freedom”. How can burning benches in the streets and throwing Molotov cocktails at the police while forcing shops to close down and suffer economic consequences make the people of Turkey free?
Another amendment is MONETARY FINES TO REPLACE PRISON SENTENCES. According to the previous law, which the protestors and the dissenters claim was better, if a person committed internet crimes, he or she could be imprisoned; according to the new law, he or she only needs to pay a fine.
Many Western analysts are involuntarily forcing Turkey to lose another opportunity for a constructive communication with over-exaggerated allegations of its shutting down the internet or its being censored. On days like this, I thank God that the
“Turkish people are not easy to deceive. They read, they discuss and they make sound analysis,” as Harun Yahya perfectly put it in his words concerning this law.
The law is perfectly compatible with ECHR regulations and the internet will keep being free in Turkey. I want to encourage the AK Party opposition to come forward with their own ideas about how to make Turkey better and freer rather than merely spending time criticizing every step the AK Party takes; being a party of “no” is simply not credible. I want to encourage our opposition to come to the public with their own well- designed projects and their own well- constructed bills. I want to see a real, viable opposition to AK Party, a genuine alternative.
Ceylan Ozbudak is a Turkish political analyst, television presenter, and executive director of Building Bridges, an Istanbul-based NGO. As a representative of Harun Yahya organization, she frequently cites quotations from the author in her writings.