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Turkish lawmakers tighten Internet restrictions

Turkey's Parliament [official website] on Wednesday approved legislation to heighten Internet restrictions, granting the country's telecommunications authority the ability to block websites or remove content without the court's approval. Amid claims that this is an act of censorship, government officials have maintained that the bill is intended to promote the protection of privacy. Many have expressed concern that the new legislation marks the government's attempt to control the information during the current corruption scandal, in which Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] named 10 new members of his Cabinet following the resignation of three members under investigation for graft. The bill still needs to be signed by President Abdullah Gul [BBC profile] before it can be implemented.

Internet freedom remains a controversial issue around the world. Last year a Canadian human rights group unveiled research [JURIST report] indicating that a number of nations are using American-made Internet surveillance technology which could be used to censor content and track their citizens. The UN Human Rights Council in July 2012 passed its first-ever resolution to protect the free speech [JURIST report] of individuals online. The resolution was approved by all 47 members of the council, including China and Cuba, which have been criticized for limiting Internet freedom. Also in 2012 China adopted stricter rules [JURIST report] on both Internet providers and users. Last November Russia passed a law [JURIST report] giving the nation the authority to completely block access to certain websites. Last July the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution [JURIST report] intended to protect Internet speech.

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