A very significant and dangerous trend has been accelerating in recent weeks. This trend consists of leaders throughout the globe coming out and blatantly calling for censorship and restrictions on free speech.
Of course, in so-called Western democracies, the leaders have to be more subtle and nuanced in their approach. They can’t just come out and say they hate the internet. We saw this tactic from the UK Conservative Party as of late with its call for the banning “non-violent” extremism from public discourse. I covered this terrifying plan in my recent post: The UK’s Conservative Party Declares War on YouTube, Twitter, Free Speech and Common Sense.
While that’s how British politicians pitch totalitarianism, their Turkish counterparts don’t seem to have any qualms about just coming out and admitting their disdain for the proliferation of free speech that the internet allows. We learn from the Independent that:
The Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has defended his government’s efforts to control online speech, telling a press freedom conference: “I am increasingly against the Internet every day.”
Mr Erdoğan’s comments came during an “unprecedented” meeting with the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) and the International Press Institute (IPI).
Local newspapers and major publications such as The New York Times and CNN International were among those slammed by officials, according to the CPJ.
“Media should never have been given the liberty to insult,” Mr Erdoğan was quoted as saying during the 90-minute meeting.
In a nod to the Western strategy, he also throws out the “terrorism” talking point.
He also expressed concern that criminal and terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State go online to recruit followers, saying he is “increasingly against” the internet.
His remarks come after he approved a law tightening control of the internet and increasing the powers held by telecoms authorities earlier in September.
Meanwhile in Egypt, the Associated Press notes that civil rights groups and humanitarian organizations are concerned that things under newly elected President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, will be even more authoritarian than they were under Hosni Mubarak.
While this trend of politicians waging war on free speech is dangerous, it is also extremely encouraging. They wouldn’t feel the need to take off the velvet gloves unless they were scared to death that the plebs were on to them and actually talking to one another.