CPJ Internet Channel

Defending Free Expression Online

A board shows alternative ways to access Twitter at an election campaign office of the main opposition Republican's People's Party in Istanbul March 25, 2014. (Reuters/Murad Sezer)

In less than a week, Turkish voters will cast their ballots in local elections widely seen as a test of support for embattled Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who has faced growing questions about official corruption since a high-level probe first became public in December. Although many observers believe Erdoğan will survive the current political crisis , the prime minister's increasingly autocratic posturing has given rise to questions about his long-term political viability.

For two months, editors were blocked from posting Premium Times' links on the outlet's Facebook page. (Facebook)

Turkey's prime minister made headlines last week by threatening to block Facebook in the country, but as recent events in Nigeria show, a more discreet intervention can be effective in disrupting the free flow of information. 

Today, a broad coalition of technology companies, human rights organizations, political groups, and others will take to the Web and to the streets to protest mass surveillance. The mobilization, known as "The Day We Fight Back," honors activist and technologist Aaron Swartz, who passed away just over a year ago. Throughout the day, the campaign will encourage individuals to contact their representatives, pressure their employers, and march for an end to government surveillance practices that sweep up huge amounts of data, often indiscriminately.

Riot police use a water cannon to disperse demonstrators during a protest against Internet censorship in Istanbul on January 18, 2014. (Reuters)

The Turkish parliament is on the verge of voting on radical censorship measures that, if approved, would allow the government to block individual URLs without prior judicial review, mandate Internet data retention for periods of up to two years, and consolidate Internet Service Providers (ISPs) into a single association, among other changes. If passed, the amendments to Turkey's already restrictive Internet law would compound a dismal record on press freedom in the country, which is the leading jailer of journalists worldwide. Unsurprisingly, the proposed amendments are causing outrage among free expression activists and journalists in Turkey and around the world.

President Barack Obama talks about National Security Agency surveillance on January 17. (AP/Carolyn Kaster)

Tonight President Obama has another opportunity to redirect the country's out-of-control surveillance programs during his annual State of the Union address. He should seize it. The president's much-anticipated January 17 speech about U.S. surveillance policy, which came in response to outrage over National Security Agency spying, left much unsaid--and many of the commitments he did make were lacking the clarity needed to lift the chill on journalism and other forms of free expression that such programs create.

Demonstrators march against government surveillance at a 'Restore the Fourth' rally on August 4, 2013, in San Francisco. (Geoffrey King)

When President Obama takes the lectern to discuss U.S. surveillance policy, as he is expected to do Friday, those hoping for sweeping reform are likely to be disappointed. As reported in The New York Times, the president appears poised to reject many of the recommendations of his Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies, a brain trust of five experts he handpicked to study U.S. intelligence practices in the wake of disclosures by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden. 

By the time the first story based on former NSA contractor Edward Snowden's disclosures splashed across the front pages of the world's newspapers, India had reportedly begun deployment of its own major surveillance architecture, the Central Management System (CMS). The system is a $132 million project that allows central access to all communications content and metadata carried over Indian telecommunications networks. According to documents reviewed by The Hindu:

On Monday, eight of the world's leading technology companies set aside their rivalries to issue a direct challenge to U.S. lawmakers: lead the world by example and fix America's broken surveillance state. Although the tech companies' statement sends a powerful message, notably absent from the letter's signatories is the appearance of a single telecommunications company, or telco.

The socialist government of President Nicolas Maduro is forcing Internet service providers to act as policemen. (AP/Ariana Cubillos)

The concept of network neutrality holds that all Internet traffic should be treated equal and that Internet Service Providers, or ISPs, should serve as free-flowing gateways for information rather than as filters. But in politically polarized Venezuela, neutrality is an increasingly rare commodity and now ISPs are feeling the heat.

Carlos Miller (Theo Karantsalis)

Carlos Miller is not one to back down. As the founder and publisher of Photography is Not a Crime, a leading blog about free speech and press rights in the U.S., Miller has made it his mission to publicize examples of government overreach and the suppression of journalists' and other newsgatherers' rights. And although he frequently finds himself taking law enforcement officials to task through a combination of original reporting, analysis and activism, Miller never expected that his work would lead to a criminal charge punishable by a decade's imprisonment.

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The CPJ Internet Channel examines the battle for free expression online.

12 Internet cases in 2014