Netizen Report: Turkey to Increase Social Media Restrictions?

Demonstrator in Turkey. Photo by Caelie_Frampton CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Photo by Caelie_Frampton CC BY-NC-SA 2.0

Most of this report was researched, written, and edited by Lisa FergusonAlex Laverty, Ellery Roberts Biddle, and Sarah Myers.

Global Voices Advocacy's Netizen Report offers an international snapshot of challenges, victories, and emerging trends in Internet rights around the world. This week's report explores current and impending threats to freedom of expression in Turkey, Vietnam and Nepal.


In the wake of massive protests at Taksim Gezi Park, the Turkish government has launched a study to explore options for restricting social media in the country. Lawmakers have begun drafting legislation targeting online crime, and Interior Minister Muammer Guler has said that social media sites are “on the government’s radar” for their role as a tool to organize protesters.


Three prominent Vietnamese bloggers have been arrested in the past month and accused of “spreading anti-state propaganda.” The Vietnamese government has arrested 46 bloggers and activists in 2013 thus far, and many suspect there is a campaign to silence journalists who are exposing government corruption.

Three journalists in Nepal were arrested last week for reporting on the sexual behaviors of female college students at a public university. The journalists have been accused of violating Nepal's Electronic Transactions Act.


A group of human rights activists and journalists in Mexico have filed a request for an investigation of the use of FinFisher spyware in the country. The request cites an April report by Citizen Lab, which revealed widespread use of FinFisher software in 36 countries.

Brazil's intelligence agency has been keeping close watch [pt] over social networks and messaging applications including Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp, likely in an effort to monitor ongoing protests throughout the country.

A New America Media article explored the potential impact the National Security Agency’s PRISM program could have on communities of color.

National Policy

China’s real name registration policy may threaten the communication rights of certain ethnic minorities in the country. An ethnic Uyghur recently reported being unable to register for social media platform WeChat; he suspected his application may have been denied because of his national ID number, which indicates that he was born in Xinjiang, China's Uyghur region. Xinjiang has been under increased surveillance since a series of demonstrations in 2009.


Africa’s cybersecurity community is growing as the region experiences significant expansion in online services and users. At last week’s African Internet Summit in Lusaka, Zambia, researchers presented statistics showing that despite the significant rise in Internet users, African Internet devices have a 5% infection rate, half the rate of infected devices in Europe.

Cybersecurity experts in South Africa heralded a ‘crisis’ in the Rainbow Nation due to a rise in cybercrime. With some calling for more attention from national security agencies, others worried about how increased government involvement in cybersecurity could affect users’ rights. This notwithstanding, the Department of State Security will lead the government's cybersecurity strategy beginning this fall.

A new draft law would enable Spanish police to use trojans to spy on individuals’ computers. The draft says that prosecutors may ask a judge for permission to install software that “allows the remote examination and without knowledge of the owner, of the content in computers, electronic devices, computer systems, instruments of massive storage or databases.”

Cool Things

A mobile Internet modem called BRCK, designed and built in Africa, successfully achieved its fundraising goals on Kickstarter. A product of Ushahidi, a non-profit developed of open source crisis-mapping software, BRCK enables Internet users and developers to continue working in the face of unreliable electricity grids in developing countries.

Tunisia hosted the third annual Freedom Online Coalition Conference, joining 17 other countries to advance Internet freedom. An article by Index overviews progress in Tunisia’s effort to open up the Internet, as well as the considerable challenges it still faces.

Publications and Studies


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