Turkish parliament passes restrictive Internet bill

New York, March 20, 2015–The Committee to Protect Journalists is alarmed at the passage of a bill late Thursday by Turkish Parliament. The bill will allow Turkish cabinet members to ban websites deemed harmful to national security without a court order and will allow the country’s telecommunications authority to impose hefty fines on websites that it believes violates the bill. The bill now awaits President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s signature.

“Under this legislation, national security and the public order are a pretext for Internet censorship in Turkey,” CPJ Europe and Central Asia Program Coordinator Nina Ognianova said. “We call on President Erdoğan to reject this bill and for Turkish lawmakers to tolerate the flow of news and commentary online, as befits a modern democracy.”

This is the second time in six months that the Turkish government has tried to pass such restrictions. In September, Parliament approved a bill authorizing the state-controlled Turkish telecommunications authority to block websites on national security and public order grounds without a court order. Turkey’s Constitutional Court struck down the restrictions in October.