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Turkish PM bans Twitter

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] attempted to block Twitter [social media website] on Friday but users quickly found ways to circumvent the ban. The ban came after audio recordings [recordings, in Turkish] of a voice, resembling Erdogan's, instructed his son to dispose of large amounts of money during a police search were leaked via Twitter. Ergodan denies corruption and has claimed the recordings were fabricated to discredit him in the upcoming election. Human Rights Watch (HRW) [advocacy website] researcher Emma Sinclair-Webb said [press release] that the ban was implemented in order to hide damaging recordings before the upcoming election. When users attempted [AP report] to access the site, they instead saw a notice citing court orders. Among those users that circumvented the ban was President Abdullah Gul [official website], who has been vocal about opposing Internet censorship.

Internet freedom remains a controversial issue around the world. Despite Gul condemning the ban, in February the president approved legislation to heighten Internet restrictions [JURIST report], granting the country's telecommunications authority the ability to block websites or remove content without a court's approval. 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. In November of 2012 Russia passed a law [JURIST report] giving the government the authority to completely block access to certain websites. In July of 2012 the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution [JURIST report] intended to protect Internet speech.

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