Turkish watchdog RTÜK set to censor internet platforms

A by-law which will allow for Turkey’s state-run broadcasting watchdog to censor all internet broadcasting platforms has been approved, left-wing Evrensel daily reported.

The Turkish state agency for monitoring, regulating, and sanctioning radio and television broadcasts (RTÜK) met on Tuesday to discuss the bylaw regarding radio and TV programs aired online, Evrensel said. The bylaw, which will also require that TV stations receive a permit from RTÜK to begin broadcasting online, was approved by a majority rule following a four hour meeting, Evrensel said. 

Under the leadership of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), RTÜK took a strict approach with TV stations, slapping channels with large fines for what they say is ‘’offending societal values.’’ Consequently, many Turkish television producers now opted to share their work online, which is now set to be under the aggressive watchdog’s mandate.

Opposition deputy and RTÜK board member İlhan Taşcı spoke against the new bylaw, saying, “What is the aim of this? If this bylway comes into effect then everything, including who watches what for how long will be on record. This data is regarding people’s private lives. It may start with your name and surname and continue with your address before going all the way into visual and audio monitoring.’’

Turkish authorities have in the past blocked access to Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, citing national security concerns. Wikipedia has been banned in Turkey for over a year, due to what officials call a ‘’coordinated smear campaign’’ against the country.