A REFLECTION ON TURKEY’S CONTESTED INTERNET AND PUBLIC DEMAND FOR INTERNET FREEDOM

Turkish media expert Dr. Bilge Yesil reflects on findings from the newly released report “Benchmarking Demand: Turkey’s Contested Internet.” In her post, Dr. Yesil examines what the report’s results mean for researchers, policymakers, and internet freedom activists in Turkey. Click here to read the full report.

Do a quick online search on Internet policy in Turkey, and it’s very likely that you will see reports and news stories with “censorship fears,” “decline in online freedoms,” and “Internet crackdown” in the title. It is also likely that you will read about how Internet and free speech activists in Turkey are decrying the AKP (Justice and Development Party) government’s heavy-handed approach to online communications, and maybe you will even get the sense that the level of support for Internet freedoms is quite high among ordinary users. You will also come acrossnews stories that celebrate Turkish users’ expert circumvention of social media bans: “Battle-trained… users…quickly turned on VPN services that reroute access through other countries to conceal the point of access to a platform, effectively nullifying the [Twitter] blackout.”

I bring up these talking points because they shed light on our assumptions about Internet users in Turkey—that they are concerned about online restrictions, do support Internet freedoms, and easily bypass social media bans. But I have often wondered who these users are. What is their socio-economic background? Are they the tech-savvy youth? Are they in fact the “upper classes…the ones who can afford the technology”? What do users think about Internet restrictions? How much of a difference do socio-economic background, education level and political party affiliation make in their approval/disapproval of the government’s Internet policies? Are there users who perhaps are not concerned about Internet censorship at all (gasp!) and do think that social media threatens traditional values? If so, who are they?

The OSU/Koc/Annenberg survey offers valuable…

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Demand for Internet Freedom? An Interview with Erik Nisbet

Dr. Erik Nisbet, associate professor of communication, political science, and environmental policy at Ohio State University, responds to questions drawn from the recently released report “Benchmarking Public Demand: Russia’s Appetite for Internet Control,” which seeks to assess the public’s demand for internet freedom in Russia. 

What was the most surprising part of the dataset?

The findings from the survey analysis that surprised me the most were Russian attitudes about the use of the Internet by foreign countries and the censorship of foreign media. There is a robust sentiment among Russians (roughly half of non- and light users of the Internet and about one-third of heavy Internet users) that foreign countries are actively using the Internet against Russia and that foreign news media websites should be censored by the Russian government.  These attitudes are reflective of the political messaging by the Russian government, but I was surprised that they had found such wide-spread acceptance among the population.  Building support among the public to censor foreign mass media and websites is an important part of a much larger information control strategy by the Russian government, as is also the recent legislation limiting foreign ownership of mass media in Russia, to isolate the Russian public from outside information that may be inconsistent with the government’s dominance of news and information dissemination within Russia.

 

How do Russian attitudes towards internet governance differ from some other places where you’ve done work?

Unfortunately, the demand for democratic governance in Russia is very…

 

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Public Opinion on Censorship of Internet in India: A View from UP

//Dr. Pradeep Kumar Misra is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Education and Allied Sciences of M.J.P. Rohilkhand University, Bareilly, India. In this post, Dr. Misra discusses internet censorship in India. 

Internet censorship is one of the most widely debated issues of the present day. Citizens, researchers, academic institutions, and governments across the globe are discussing and coming to different sets of observations and conclusions concerning censorship. For example, a UN Report based on a poll of twenty nations stated that, “With just a few exceptions majorities say that the government should not have the right to limit access to the Internet.” report from U.S.-based Freedom House observes, “Restrictions on Internet freedom continue to expand across a wide range of countries. Over the past year, the global number of censored websites has increased, while Internet users in various countries have been arrested, tortured, and killed over the information they posted online.”  The Freedom House report further observes that in three democracies – India, the United States, and Brazil –it had seen troubling declines in internet freedom.

In light of the fact that India is the world’s largest democracy and has a rapidly growing number of netizens…

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