Turkish MPs were to debate a Internet legislation yesterday which is roundly criticised as a further attack by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan on freedom of expression, access to information and investigative journalism.
The proposals come amid parallel moves by Erdogan to push through contentious judicial reforms as he fights to keep the lid on a deeply damaging corruption probe entangling some of his closest allies.
Turks' ability to go online is already far from free, activists say, with a controversial 2007 Internet law used to block thousands of websites and authorities filing reams of requests to block content. But the amendments to the existing law go further still.
The authority will be able to request and collect communications and traffic data from hosting and service providers -- without a court order or a justified reason, sources told AFP.
It will be able to order a provider to block any website deemed to have infringed privacy or be discriminatory or insulting, or to protect young people from unsuitable content.
Reporters Without Borders said the aim is "to reinforce cyber-censorship, government control of the Internet and surveillance", while the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) called it a "slide into Internet authoritarianism".
"If passed, the amendments to Turkey's already restrictive Internet law would compound a dismal record on press freedom in the country, which is the leading jailer of journalists worldwide," the CPJ said.