Turkey to Give All Citizens Government-Controlled Email Accounts at Birth

Turkish officials aim to launch their own search engine and government-issued e-mail accounts

Istanbul is Watching

Turkey's government wants to keep a better eye on its citizens.Jorge1767

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.