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ISTANBUL –Tens of thousands of people have protested in several Turkish cities against censorship on the internet. The turnout was particularly high in Turkey’s biggest city Istanbul and in the western coastal city of Izmir.

In Istanbul at least 15,000 people turned out, especially young people up to about age 35. The protests were aimed against internet censorship in general, but especially against a new and far-reachingplan of the government: the introduction of internet filters. By the end of August, everybody with an internet connection has to choose a filter. There will for example be a children’s and family filter, but also a ‘standard’package which offers the internet as it is now in Turkey.

The biggest problem with the filter is that it gives the government the possibility to block internet sites without a court order. Which sites will be inaccessible with which filter and which criteria will be applied, will not be made public. It will also become impossible to use technical tricks to bypass the bans on sites. A fundamental violation of civil rights, in the opinion of experts.

Internet censorship has been a problem for years in Turkey:  access to thousands of sites is blocked. The filter system is seen as a step towards further censorship, whilethere is pressure, notably from the EU, to change laws to expand freedom on the internet.

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