August 22: The Day the Internet Will Die in Turkey?

Something interesting is happening here. The government has announced a new law that will come into effect on August 22 to filter the Internet.

The Turkish government calls its new Internet controls Safe Use of the Internet. They are scheduled to take effect in August and will require all Internet users to choose from one of four filter profiles operated by their server provider.

The object of the filters is ostensibly to protect Turkey from terrorism and porn. (Studying the list of words to be banned is most enlightening. Our Code of Conduct prevents me from discussing them, but let’s just say that I wish my Turkish friends had told me about the number 31, rather than just letting me use it as if it were merely the number between 30 and 32. I’m sure they’ve been laughing themselves half to death.)

The interesting thing is this: I’m seeing a kind of outrage about this proposal that’s different in kind and degree from the outrage I usually see in response to the latest outrageous proposal, whatever it was. I was always completely mystified by weary, resigned acceptance of the YouTube ban. I wrote about that here.

But this proposal really seems to have been a step too far. I’m hearing people who have never before expressed the faintest interest in attending a protest say that they plan to attend one–if they can find one where the freaks with the Mao and the Stalin posters won’t be in attendance.

I’m seeing massive campaigns about it on Facebook and Twitter, some of them quite sophisticated, like this:

The hashtag #22agustos has been trending on Twitter, and the phrase “August 22: The day the Internet will die” has been all over the Internet.internetin-olum-tarihi-22-agustos-2011_2011_802453-1.jpg

I’m not completely sure how to interpret this, but two hypotheses come to mind:

1) Ordinary Turkish citizens are finally developing the self-confidence to say, “Enough with the censorship. Enough.”


2) You can mess with a lot of things, but not a man’s porn.


More By Claire Berlinski