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Turkey: "We Need Internet Censorship, Because Violence Against Women"

BY Jessica McKenzie | Thursday, February 13 2014

A controversial anti-Internet freedom ad from Turkey

The draconian Internet legislation that was working its way through the Turkish government in January passed February 5. To coincide with the new legislation, the Turkish government launched a disturbing advertising campaign that seems to equate a free and open internet with violence. The accompanying picture is of a woman with a bruised eye.

The translation of the ad, according to political analyst and blogger Gürkan Özturan, is: “Violence is a crime. What about the Internet? Absence of rules does not mean liberty!”

However, a comment on a techdirt article about the campaign says it should be translated “Violence is a crime. What about violence on Internet?”

Techdirt's Glyn Moody points out that this campaign is an extreme example of the belief that the Internet is a “Wild West” that should be tamed.

Indeed, regulation as a “necessary evil” is a defense of censorship often trotted out. The 2012 Nobel prize winner for literature, Mo Yan, who has been criticized for having close ties with the Chinese government and is himself a Chinese Communist Party member, compared the necessity of Internet censorship to airport security checks.

In places like Russia, censorship of things like pornography, suicides, and homosexuality are defended as a necessary protection for children.

The United Kingdom has recently activated a filtering system that requires Internet users to opt-in to see content from categories like sex, alcohol, violence and hate speech. David Cameron explained his motivations for pursuing Internet filtering last July, echoing Russia's:

I want to talk about the internet the impact it is having on the innocence of our children how online pornography is corroding childhood and how, in the darkest corners of the internet, there are things going on that are a direct danger to our children, and that must be stamped out. [sic]

So while it is easy to call Turkey out for an absurd anti-Internet freedom campaign, is there really that big a gulf between the UK's rhetoric of children in danger and Turkey's imagery of women in danger?

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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