Update: Turkey’s parliament passed the legislation on Wednesday February 5, 2014. GNI urges Turkish President Abdullah Gül to veto the bill.

The Global Network Initiative is greatly concerned by legislation under consideration in Turkey that if passed, would loosen already troubling standards for blocking of online content and require Internet service providers (ISPs) to retain information about users’ online activity

The legislation would amend Turkey’s Law 5651 on the Regulation of Broadcasts via Internet and Prevention of Crimes Committed through Such Broadcasts. In December 2012, the European Court of Human Rights ruled that the existing law violates the right to freedom of expression under Article 10 of the European Convention on Human Rights. The amendments, however, would worsen the law’s impact on rights to free expression and privacy by weakening judicial oversight and due process for decisions on content removal and opening the door to even greater censorship online. The amendments also dramatically increase the obligations on ISPs to retain information about their customers’ online activities, and force ISPs to join a state controlled association.

On January 14 the Turkish Parliament’s planning and budget committee approved the proposed amendments, which are due to be considered by the full Parliament before the end of the month. Turkish police used tear gas and water cannons against protests over the law held in Istanbul and Ankara last week.

GNI urges the Turkish parliament to review the proposed amendments and remove those that are inconsistent with international legal standards regarding free expression and privacy rights.