Turkey's challenge in content controls

By: sally on 5 March 2008
Posted in Turkey, Europe

Turkey's largest English-language newspaper, the Turkish Daily News, ran an op-ed by John Palfrey and Jonathan Zittrain today, on the future of the Net and the risk to freedoms of speech and expression. They write:
In Turkey, the Internet has been largely free from government controls. Free expression and innovation have found homes online, in ways that benefit culture and the economy.
But there are signs that this freedom may be nearing its end, just as the benefits to be reaped are growing. When the state chooses to ban entire services for the many because of the acts of the few, the threat to innovation and creativity is high. Those states that have erected extensive censorship and surveillance regimes online have found them hard to implement with any degree of accuracy and fairness. And, more costly, the chilling effect on citizens who rely on the digital world for their livelihood and key aspects of their culture - in fact, the ability to remake their own cultural objects - is a high price to pay for control.

The impact of the choice Turkey makes today will be felt over decades and generations. Turkey's choice also has international ramifications. If Turkey decides to clamp down on Internet activity, it will be lending aid to those who seek to see the Internet chopped into a series of local networks - the China Wide Web, the Iran Wide Web, and so forth - rather than continuing to build a truly World Wide Web. For Turkey, and for the global community, the Internet is worth saving.
Palfrey and Zittrain will take up these issues in a discussion at Harvard next Friday, as part of our celebration of the release of Access Denied, ONI's new book. Zittrain also explores these risks and challenges in his new book, The Future of the Internet - and How to Stop It, available in April.