Istanbul Erupts in Riots Over New Internet Law

A new bill has just been approved in the Turkish parliament, which will allow the government to universally block any website of their choosing without having to consult a court on the ruling beforehand.

Photo: BBC News, Reuters

Photo: BBC News, Reuters

Passed by the country’s parliament in a 319-231 victory for the dominant Justice and Development party, the bill was hotly contested by several members present at the gathering. At the beginning of the debate, the opposition MP Hasan Oren compared the bill and its tactics to those used by Adolf Hitler during his rise to power.

“When you came to power you talked of enhancing democracy in Turkey – now you are trying to implement fascism,” he said. Remember that Adolf Hitler used the same methods when he rose to power.”

Along with the ability to monitor and block any traffic any traffic in or out of the country as they please, the law also requires ISPs operating within Turkey’s borders to maintain logs of users data for upwards of two years, although a court order is still required to gain access to any information held by these companies during the 24-month period.

The bill represents a landmark in the continuously tighter grip that the Turkish government is placing on media outlets, becoming more and more reminiscent of the Great Firewall of China by the day. Turkish President Abdullah Gul seems very concerned that what happened in countries like Egypt and Tunisia last year could be in the works on his home turf, so he’s simply decided to cut off the problem at the bud and limit any communication that could contain messages of dissent and specifically set out to target anyone who even mentions the word “uprising” in a tweet.

To voice their displeasure with the decisions, thousands of protestors stormed Taksim Square, Istanbul, which was quickly descended on by local authorities sporting all latest tech in riot-control gear.

The protests were quickly shut down by police, who dispersed crowds with the use of water cannons, tear gas, and rubber bullets.

Police were also seen using paintball guns to keep protesters at bay and under control, emphasizing just how desperately the state wants to maintain control over the people and their ideas of how the country should be run.