Turkey is pushing through new legislation that tightens government control over the internet – days after the country hosted the Internet Governance Forum, a high profile UN-backed gathering.
The measure is also part of the first legislative package since Recep Tayyip Erdogan, previously Turkey's prime minister, succeeded Abdullah Gul as the country's president last month and specifically reverses a compromise Gul had thrashed out on internet controls.
Under the new legislation, proposed by Turkey's ruling AK party and incorporated into an omnibus package that government legislators hoped to pass on Tuesday night, the head of Turkey's telecoms directorate will gain the power to block internet sites within four hours, ahead of a court decision.
Once the regulator has taken such a step on the grounds of national security, crime prevention or public order, it has 24 hours to seek a court order and the court a further 48 hours to decide whether to uphold the move.
"This is intensely problematic because based on this broad terminology a public servant will make the judgment to block access to websites," said Yaman Akdeniz, a legal scholar who has fought the government on internet cases. "I find it incompatible with the constitution . . . This is a dubious power to give to a questionable public authority such as the telecoms directorate."