[JURIST] Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile] approved a law on Thursday that tightens the government control of the internet and expands the powers of the telecoms authority. Parliament passed the law on Monday. The new law comes after legislation was passed [JURIST report] in February that made it easier for authorities to block access to webpages without a court order. The new law furthers those powers, allowing Turkey’s Telecommunications Directorate to block sites if deemed necessary for matters of “national security, the restoration of public order and the prevention of crimes.” The main opposition Republican People’s Party [party website] said that it would appeal to the constitutional court to overturn the new law. Signing the law was one of Erdogan’s first acts as president since becoming the head of state last month.
Internet freedom [JURIST backgrounder] 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.