Erdogan is damaging Turkey’s democratic accountability through censorship

Prime Minister Erdogan  Copyright

Prime Minister Erdogan

Turkey’s Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has lost his sense of democratic accountability.

Some YouTube videos have put the PM in a very bad light. Instead of convincing others that these are falsified materials – that is, if he didn’t actually had nothing to hide -, he lost his usual temper and decided to impose censorship on foreign conspirators. A highly dubious act in a democracy.

I have previously written about the personalities of PM Erdogan and President Gul. In the analysis of their personalities it became clear that the Prime Minister is a person who does not tolerate criticism and has the conviction that what he does it right. Gul, on the other hand, is smart in diplomacy and is a more careful and considerate decision maker, and much less of a populist than Erdogan is. The two are rivals, who believe in a different course for Turkey.

Regarding the censorship issue, besides Twitter and YouTube, Google has also fallen victim to censorship in Turkey. Below a copy of a blog post from Google’s Online Security Blog

We have received several credible reports and confirmed with our own research that Google’s Domain Name System (DNS) service has been intercepted by most Turkish ISPs (Internet Service Providers).

A DNS server tells your computer the address of a server it’s looking for, in the same way that you might look up a phone number in a phone book. Google operates DNS servers because we believe that you should be able to quickly and securely make your way to whatever host you’re looking for, be it YouTube, Twitter, or any other.

But imagine if someone had changed out your phone book with another one, which looks pretty much the same as before, except that the listings for a few people showed the wrong phone number. That’s essentially what’s happened: Turkish ISPs have set up servers that masquerade as Google’s DNS service.


And, according to OpenDNS Chief Executive David Ulevitch in the Wall Street Journal,

This hijacking of our traffic represents an escalation of censorship and data manipulation by the Turkish government that we have not ever seen previously anywhere outside of China.

In my opinion, Turkey under the AKP made a lot of progress in the 2000s and left the different-minded – the less religiously inclined, liberal – in large part alone. However, in the 2010s the party is interfering more in the private lives of its citizens, and curbs the fundamental freedoms of its citizens.

The experiences I have in Turkey with Turks, and following the news over the protests last year (and this year), give me the impression that this will remain a bumpy ride for the AKP, because anger looms and protests erupt again.

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