Commissioner Füle spokesperson expressed a tough stance against the bill giving Turkish government broader powers to block access to websites. “Turkey is a candidate for the EU and its laws needs to be in line with the European standards.”
“The bill is raising serious concerns here” in Brussels. The European Commission did not like the latest bills approved by the Turkish Parliament, which has lately passed a bill giving the government broader powers to control the internet. Peter Stano, spokesperson of the EU Commissioner for Enlargement and Neighbourhood Policy, Štefan Füle, sends a clear message to Ankara: the bill risks to compromise the Turkish process of joining the European Union. “Turkey is a candidate to joining the EU, and each bill – especially dealing with the rule of law and regulation – needs to be in line with the European standards.” According to Stano, this principle cannot apply to this bill: “We think this bill seriously breaches freedom of expression.”
The Turkish Parliament has passed a bill that gives the government broader powers to ban access to content – deemed to violate personal privacy – eliminating the need for a court order. The internet provider hosting the website has to ban the access within four hours of a petition. Furthermore, internet providers shall adhere to a new organization, the “Union of Providers” – under the control of the Telecommunication authority, while the Transports authority will hold a database with all the webpages visited by Turkish users in the last two years.
The bill has raised serious concerns among NGOs and Turkish opposition, now joined by the European Union, which, in Stano’s words, is ready to act: “It is important for Turkey to be aware of its European commitments.” That is to say, if Turkey really wants to join the EU, it has to accept European standards and rules, or the doors will be closed. The recently approved bill is a step towards the latter option – stopping a process that had started after five years of break.