EU data privacy champion hits out at Turkish attempts at social media censorship

6 Jun 2013

Pictured: Sean Kelly MEP

Ireland South MEP Sean Kelly, co-author of a pending EU report on Data Protection Regulation, has slammed the Turkish government’s efforts at social media censorship resulting in people being jailed for using Twitter.

Kelly, who recently received the prestigious IAB Europe Award for Leadership and Excellence for his approach to dealing with privacy concerns over shortcomings in the European Commission’s data protection proposal, called on the Turkish authorities not to restrict social media or internet access.

City-wide unrest has swept Istanbul since Friday after excessive force by the police against a small demonstration against the Turkish government’s decision to build on top of the last green area of the city escalated into anti-government protest.

Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan has described social networks like Twitter as a menace to society. It has been reported that at least 25 people have been detained for using Twitter.

Kelly said that democratic Turkish protestors have had to revert to using encryption software to combat government censorship on Twitter and Facebook.

“The Rights of Citizens to freedom of expression on the internet and Social Media is fundamental to EU policy on Data Protection and Turkey which is in negotiations to become a full member of the European Union, should recognise this. Social Media has proven to be a force for progressive influence, rather than a menace, and therefore the Turkish authorities should not censor Twitter or Facebook usage or block internet content.”

Kelly is a member of the influential EU Industry, Research and Energy Committee and was nominated to co-author the EU Parliament’s report on the Data Protection Regulation. A key principal of the report is to protect citizens privacy-security on the internet and social media.

Kelly has previously met with the US General Counsel of the Commerce Department, Cameron Kerry, on the increasingly important issue of online privacy, as co-author of the European Parliament’s forthcoming Data Protection report.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years