In the last three years the climate for online free expression in Turkey has gone from relatively bad to awful. Mirroring the more general human rights situation that has progressively deteriorated, online free expression has become a key battleground. In this context, it should come as little surprise that the “usual suspects” – the “Dictators Little Helpers” as some have called them – have begun delivering increasingly advanced software and hardware to the Turkish government (Kehl & Morgus, 2014).At this point, it seems credible to assume that not only mass censorship and filtering but wide scale mass surveillance is taking place. Responsibility for such a failure cannot be laid at the feet of the Turkish government alone. If anything, the spiral into violence in Turkey also represents a failure of its key partners and neighbours. For example, the politics of Turkey’s EU accession made it impossible to “lock in” any progress made in the area of human rights. Instead repressive measures against free expression and other political rights have dominated Turkish politics since 2011, with successively more repressive measures since May 2011 heavily influencing Turkish politics. These authoritarian methods are reminiscent of other countries in the region but also of other authoritarian states such as Russia. Frustratingly, many of the countries affected by the Arab uprisings have praised the Turkish model and attempted to emulate it in some way or another. It should be emphasized however that the “Turkish model” in which even moderate political reform was considered possible no longer exists and that post-revolutionary countries would do better to look elsewhere for guidance.
“The problem,” says Julian Assange, is that “a lot of groups that would normally criticize Google, the nonprofits that are involved in the tech sector, are funded directly or indirectly by Google. Or by USAID. Or by Freedom House. Google and its extended network have significant patronage in the very groups that would normally be criticizing it.”
“For example,” he continues, “the EFF is a great group, and they’ve done good things for us, but nonetheless it is significantly funded by Google, or people who work at Google.”
I wanted to make sure I heard him right: “Are you saying that if it didn’t have those ties, that the EFF would be more outspoken against Google?”
“I don’t know about EFF specifically,” he says, “but it’s the nature of organizations. They don’t like to bite the hand that feeds them.”
Also an issue raised in India and in Europe…
China, supported by South Africa and others, brought a hostile oral amendment to the resolution, to include a further paragraph warning of the dangers the Internet poses for encouraging terrorism, extremism, racism, and religious intolerance. This would have introduced to agreed UN language a loophole for online censorship antithetical to the purpose of the resolution and international standards. Fortunately it was voted down by a resounding 28 votes to 15, with 4 abstentions. “We are alarmed that established democracies, such as South Africa and even India, distanced themselves from consensus by supporting China’s attempt to justify State censorship” Hughes said. “The fundamental importance of open, critical and even controversial expression on the Internet is a universal value that applies in all societies. Today the HRC ultimately rejected attempts to condition the enjoyment of human rights on the Internet on ‘duties and responsibilities’ of Internet users. That is an important win, which the HRC must continue to build upon.”
Minister of state for Information and Broadcasting Prakash Javadekar on Friday said that the NDA government would not interfere with freedom of the press under any circumstances.
Inaugurating the sixth edition of Malayalam daily ‘Janmabhoomi’, the mouthpiece of BJP’s State unit here, he said the NDA government’s policy on development of the media and communication would be straightforward and transparent.
“The government will not create a stumbling block in issuing licenses and other requisite permits,” he said.
Javadekar recalled that freedom of the press had been gained from the British with ‘great sacrifices’ of many eminent men, several of whom had been martyrs for the purpose.
He said it most unfortunate that press was ‘mauled’ during the Emergency and pointed out that there were great men even during that period who fought bravely to maintain its freedom and even underwent imprisonment.
For those opposed to the BJP’s ideology and policies, he said development of the media and communication network is essential for the healthy growth of democracy.
The report recognizes the existence of a guarantee of the right to freedom of expression in the Palestinian Basic Law, which serves in lieu of a constitution, and calls for this to be strengthened. The recommendations highlight that existing legal restrictions on free expression should be amended to be in line with international standards of necessity and proportionality. The study also encourages the national authorities to adopt a right to information law, drawing on extensive work already completed in this area with civil society organizations. It further recommends the establishment of an independent regulatory body, the transformation of the Palestinian Public Radio and Television Corporation into an independent public service broadcaster, and the promotion of community media. The report proposes that the media industry develop an effective system for self-regulation, and invites universities to modernize their media programmes and consider the establishment of a Master’s programme on media. It acknowledges the efforts of the national authorities to involve civil society in the development of a new strategic ICT and digital transition plan and encourages them to continue following this approach.