Time to shake off that post-Thanksgiving tryptophan daze and see what the other Turkey has been doing. Turns out those Turkish officials have begun working on two Internet projects: a Turkish search engine that aims to address Muslim sensitivities, and government-controlled e-mail accounts for all 70 million Turkish citizens.
Google would still likely reign supreme as far as Web services, but the chairman of Turkey's Information Technologies and Communication Board has bet that Muslim countries would prefer using a Turkish search engine that eliminates info that leaders might find offensive. That could range from politically sensitive topics to smut.
But Foreign Policy magazine sees the real kicker for Internet surveillance in Turkey's government-issued e-mail accounts. Known as "the Anaposta," the project would provide 10-gigabyte e-mail accounts to all citizens from birth, and even put the e-mail address on citizen identity cards. That would supposedly allow Turkish citizens to avoid "foreign networks" such as Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail.
The Turkish government says that having data route through servers in other countries represents a security risk. Of course, that assumes Turkish citizens would prefer the risk of their e-mails ending up in the hands of government analysts or intelligence services.
Still, Turkey does not stand alone in wanting more control over its population of netizens. China has long sought to censor and control the flow of online information with its Great Firewall. The UK government is pushing communications firms to hold onto online records, if only to see who contacted whom as opposed to the actual contents of e-mails, forum posts or in-game messages. And the CIA has invested in a firm that specializes in monitoring social networks.
[via Foreign Policy]
Normally, I have nothing against electronic surveillance. Let Big Brother see where I go, read what I write, and hear what I have to say; frankly, it's boring, and I'm sure he will quickly redirect his attention to other, more important tasks - like locating terrorist cells, illegal drug labs and contraband, and helping to catch criminals.
IMHO, at least in the U.S., the only ones who really have anything to fear from electronic surveillance are people with something to hide.
This Turkish system, though ... I don't know. As long as it's voluntary, I don't see any real problem with it. No doubt there are plenty of good Muslim folks in Turkey who would love to have a search engine geared toward their sensibilities (as opposed to Google, which shows you pictures of scantily-clad succubi when you type in a search for the word "church"). Having a single e-mail address that anyone can contact you at could be a good thing for some people. And in a voluntary system, if folks don't like the idea of the Turkish government reading their e-mails, etc., they could just get a free e-mail account on one of those foreign networks not affiliated with Turkey's intelligence agency.
If, on the other hand, the Turkish government tries to enforce laws saying that its citizens can ONLY use the government-run search engine to find information, and that they can ONLY use the government-monitored e-mail accounts to communicate online, then I might worry. Censorship of information causes all kinds of societal problems - a kind of intellectual and cultural blindness that can lead to isolation, misunderstanding and conflict.
Fortunately, the Turkish government formally ended capital punishment in 1991, so the citizenry wouldn't have to worry about being dragged out in the street and shot for griping about the government in an e-mail. Still, I hope the Turkish government doesn't try to use its monitoring tech to try and impose a religious or ideological agenda on its people (at least no more than ours does in the U.S., at any rate ...)
I read the original report in Turkish and there was not a single mention of "Muslim sensitivities". Your source has apparently invented it, out of ignorance. Indeed it doesn't make sense, for we are a SECULAR country where you must take into account people from EVERY type of beliefs. The sensitivities he is talking about are probably the multiple cases of terrorists killing Turkish soldiers on camera, and uploading the videos on Youtube for propaganda and ,of course, Youtube's total lack of action about the videos no matter how many people flag them.
Another invention for tabloid-blog sensationalist value is that it means they are in fact after pulling a Big Brother on us. Not only we are at the moment dishing out a new wiretap law -for EU reforms and for general modernization's sake- our EU membership bid and the reforms it brings would weaken any possibility of blatant breach of privacy by the state.
And indeed the so called e-mail accounts for everybody will only be used to receive and send government documents and applications. Because you know, we are not that naive to talk about illegal stuff with a government issued e-mail address with our citizenship numbers used as the address.(Duh!)
And if he said we would use that address rather than conventional e-mail addresses he is either too naive or was possibly drunk at the time of the interview. After all, the man is another bureaucrat occupying a position he doesn't know much about, another reform we urgently need to do. (We have a massive problem with bureaucracy)
And don't forget that if I am to choose between our intelligence agency and CIA, I'd choose be monitored by ours because I don't like getting kidnapped and being waterboarded in a secret CIA prison that much.
Using those government email maybe really voluntary.
But if you don't use it you may get a phone call from the government: "Hey, What's up buddy? Do you know that we have an email address for you? Why don't you use it for ALL your communications from now on?" :-)
Props to you neoshadow -- nice clarification. I assume that you are a Turkish citizen, and you know what's going on.
The attitude of Q42 ("the only ones who really have anything to fear from electronic surveillance are people with something to hide") is dangerous and must be challenged.
People need the right to keep secrets, and not all secrets are illegal, immoral, or threatening to society. Some secrets are good. If you were in business for yourself, you wouldn't want your secret cookie recipe to be compromised, or your secret programming algorithms, or your half-finished blockbuster screenplay, or your design for a recumbant electric diwheel with gyroscopic stabilization destined to replace the automobile.
Widespread surveillance of the public would inevitably lead to leaks of this and all kinds of information. Instead we should have electronic surveillance of the government. It has way too many secrets.
Absolutely. Thinking government surveillance is okay is really wrong. No government should be allowed to monitor private communications.
Besides of private life, also people would be scared of any criticism of government, military, even big corporations which close to government.
It would also open the door to all kinds of secret abuse.
Nobody can say all government workers are perfect.
The government (or an ex-govt agency) controls my mail box, but I don't worry about what I put in the mail. Why worry about email. If I am planning something illegal, I will use a code that won't show up on scanning programs. If my records are being searched (as they could never keep up with mail as it was sent), then I have already commited my crime and done so poorly enough to be investigated.
Google Chrome requires you to enter your gmail account to login. Imagine them creating a similar operating system where you would use your national email. They will know of all your computer activities.
And those people want to become part of the EU?
Go away! Please!
And the spammers of the world rejoice! Cost of providing email service to government, $100,000,000; Cost to newborn citizens, $0; Number of Viagra emails waiting for your toddler before they're old enough to read? Countless.
This is quite a good read. We're already implementing most points the Turkish search engine should present except the email service which we have planned to launch in early 2010. Every single human being on earth can use I'mHalal as their preferred search engine since we're step by step improving the search experience on I'mHalal. Halal in I'mHalal stands for Quality and Purity.
and urkey already bans YouTube in its country. A national Islamic search engine only makes sense if the government bans access to other search engines, as it has YouTube. Also, can you imagine in the west having a government-controlled email account?
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