John Palfrey ’01, clinical professor of law and executive director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society, made a whirlwind visit to Turkey this week to urge authorities not to filter or censor content on the internet.
Last spring, the Turkish government issued a court order blocking YouTube after videos on the site were found to be derogatory towards Turkey’s founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The blocking was heavily criticized both within Turkey and abroad, causing the government to lift the court order after two days.
Palfrey flew to Turkey on Monday night to meet with members of the Turkish parliament, key regulators who enforce internet laws in the country, a judge, and other government officials. He also met with journalists who have been tracking the government’s censorship activities.
Palfrey is a co-editor of the just-published book “Access Denied: The Practice and Policy of Global Internet Filtering” (The MIT Press). He brought 40 copies of the book with him on the Turkey trip. The Turkish government has increasingly had to figure out how to continue Ataturk’s tradition of secularism in government while at the same time granting its largely Muslim population religious freedom. Turkey’s internet policies are being watched closely by the Berkman Center’s OpenNet Initiative, which is working to identify and track internet censorship around the world.
To read Palfrey’s blog during his four-day trip, click here.