By Bilge Yesil, Efe Kerem Sozeri, and Emad Khazraee
In July 2016, Turkey was shaken by a bloody coup attempt. Although the would-be putschists failed, their insurgency led to an unprecedented reshuffling of Turkey’s political economic and socio-cultural landscapes. Notwithstanding the critical reverberations on the army, judiciary, law enforcement and civil society, the abortive coup set in motion a massive purge of civil servants, closure of media outlets, arrests of journalists, and blocking of websites and social media accounts.
This report offers an examination of the evolution of internet policy in Turkey from the early 2000s to the post-coup conjuncture. It begins with an overview of internet legislation in Turkey during the 2000s under the AKP government (Justice and Development Party), and proceeds to discuss the deployment of different forms of control between 2013-2016 to contain the fallout from political and security crises and the potentially disruptive affordances of social media platforms. The report then focuses on the emerging policy developments and online restrictions in the aftermath of the coup attempt, which include 1) the closure of the TIB—Turkey’s telecommunications authority, 2) direct government control of ISPs (Internet Service Providers) and interception of digital communications by way of decree laws, 3) facilitation of social media censorship by means of Twitter, Facebook and YouTube content removals and 4) coordinated online harassment campaigns by pro-government users against alleged coup planners, Kurdish activists and government critics in general.