In Turkey hundreds of people are gathering on streets in attempts to avert the implementation of new laws that seek control access to the internet. The law proposed by the government may enable the state to monitor the internet activity and limit the access to the online space. Though the proposal was scheduled to be debated in the parliament in several weeks, society has responded proactively and in numbers.
After summer protests in Turkey, this proposal has brought a new chance for society to state their dissent with government permissiveness; a chance to make their voices heard, through the claims for free internet, their desire for freedom in all the areas of social life.
Government controls on the internet have risen around regimes since the onset of the Arab Spring in 2011. The desire of authoritarian regimes to control and regulate the internet space came as a logical consequence of what can be called the Arab Spring in its broader terms – the grass-root strife for the democratization in societies under non-democratic regimes. In this wave of the democratization that we are currently witnessing the internet had a truly fundamental significance. By revealing to millions of people the democratic alternative to the social orders they are experiencing the internet established itself as a major driver of democratization. It also provides decisive technical assistance to the organization of protests.
Having realized the powers of the internet and its significance in the awakening of civil mind-set amongst the population the authoritarian government of Turkey leaders have tried to increase their controls. However, with the processes of democratization already set into action, the state’s attempts to impose new regulations on social freedoms have provoked a passionate response from the society.
The protests in Turkey reveal that the country is experiencing a transformation with momentum. The ideas of democratization, of social and individual rights have been rooted to the minds of millions and the only way onwards is their further development. Opponents would suggest that such processes can be easily bounded by the states’ power. However, critics will forget an important aspect of such a scenario – the stronger the state’s will to control the democratic development, the louder will be the social response. Therein, we can suggest that the process of democratisation is in itself, by its nature, irreversible and these latest protests in Turkey serve as a great illustration of democratization’s immutability.
The unrest in Turkey signifies more than just a response to the potential limitations to the freedom of the internet, it illustrates that the triggering mechanism of democratisation has been brought into action and, from now on, the authoritarian powers will be aware that examining their policy of social control and state interference will face a corresponding social echo. It also demonstrates how the society, in attempts to establish itself as an inalienable part of the political and social debate, brought its government to the bilateral dialogue. These flourishing seeds of the democratization will hopefully manage to overcome the governmental desire to preserve the single-sided character of the decision-making process.
How powerful a tool of democratization is the internet?