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Clashes in Turkey as internet censorship protests turn violent

Clashes in Turkey as internet censorship protests turn violent
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Riot police in Istanbul used water canon as crowds demonstrated against a draft bill that would increase controls over the internet.

The draft, which would enable mass surveillance of internet users, is due to be debated in Turkey’s parliament in the coming days.

Protesters chanted anti-government slogans and called on lawmakers to reject the bill.

One man explained to euronews why he was demonstrating: “I’m here to defend my internet right,” he said.

“It’s wrong to be banned by somebody while you pay for the internet. I’m protesting about that. And censorship is a crime.”

According to a draft law, Turkey’s Communications Ministry and the directorate monitoring telecommunications (TIB) would be given sweeping new powers over Turkish internet service providers which would allow the government to access swathes of data without judicial approval.

Under the draft provisions, web hosts would be obliged to store all information detailing users’ online activities for up to two years and to provide this information to officials in Ankara upon request.

Officials could order access providers to block online content deemed illegal or to be “violating privacy” of a person, within only hours and without a court decision.

The controversial amendments, which would be added to the existing law regulating internet usage, are in a legislative package containing almost 130 articles on a wide range of issues.

Turkey made almost 1,700 requests for Google to remove material from the web in the first six months of 2013 – more than three times any other country and a rise of nearly 1,000 percent in one year — although most of its requests were turned down.

Turkish courts have previously blocked access to websites, including You Tube and, more recently, Vimeo.

The European Court of Human Rights has ruled that Turkey’s current internet law is against Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights, which includes the freedom to hold opinions and to receive and impart information and ideas without interference by public authority.

Bora Bayrakta, our euronews correspondent in Instanbul, said: “Despite the sporadic violence during the demonstrations against the draft law limiting internet use, the protests ended here. But activists continue their efforts to stop the draft law on social media with no break.”