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Turkey Wants To Be The Internet Gatekeeper For Its Citizens

in Broadband's Impact/Privacy by

WASHINGTON, November 30, 2009 - Turkey’s government is working on a project that would give every child a designated email address at birth, according to reports coming from the country’s state news agency late Monday. Turkey is also looking to develop a homegrown Internet search engine to address government national security concerns related to citizens using search engines based in foreign countries.

“All Internet communication data goes to foreign countries and then it returns. This activity has a security aspect,” said Tayfun Acarer, chairman of Turkey’s Information Technologies and Communication Board. He added that existing search engines don’t understand the “country’s sensitivities,” according to state news reports.

The official said that under the government’s search engine plan, “all of our 70 million citizens will be given an e-mail address written on his/her identity card since birth. So, [we] will have a mobile network that can be used thanks to ID number match and foreign networks, such as Yahoo, Gmail and Hotmail, will not be used anymore,” he said.

Establishing national search and email functions is not going to be the country’s only attempt to guard its communications. Turkey’s telecommunications authority has asked Google’s YouTube video sharing site to launch a Turkish version of its product that the country would allow citizens to access, according to the Anadolu news agency.

YouTube was banned by a Turkish court in January 2008 after video clips the government found offensive were posted online. Google was not able to respond by press time.

Winter covered technology policy issues for five-and-a-half years as a reporter for the National Journal Group. She has worked for USA Today, the Washington Times, the Magazine Group, the State Department’s International Visitor’s Program, and the Council on Hemispheric Affairs. She also taught English at a university in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.

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