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'Don't Touch My Internet' Protesters Met with Water Cannons

Protests against government takeover of internet receive violent response in Turkey

- Common Dreams staff

Riot police use a water cannon to disperse protesters during a rally against a bill which would, among other things, allow Turkey's telecommunications authority to directly block access to websites or remove content deemed to be violating privacy without a court decision, in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. (AP / Emrah Gurel) Turkish citizens protesting a draconian takeover of the nation's internat system on Saturday were met with a violent response from security forces who used rubber bullets and water cannons to disperse grounds in Istanbul.

Though similar protest was also held in the nation's capital of Ankara, only the demonstration in Istanbul turned into a scene of tear gas and chaos as protesters holding signs reading "Dont Touch My Internet" were targeted by riot police and run off the streets by streams of heavy pressure water shot from moving vehicles.

As the Associated Press reports:

Police broke up groups of protesters who gathered at the city's main hub, Taksim, and along a main street to denounce the draft bill that would allow Turkey's telecommunications authority to block websites or remove content accused of privacy violations without a court decision, and force service providers to keep Internet users' data for two years.

Critics say that would expand the government's already tight grip on the Internet. The government rejects accusations of censorship, saying the move aims to protect privacy.

The measure comes as Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's government is fighting a corruption probe targeting people close to him — the worst crisis it has faced during its 11 years in power. Erdogan says the probe is a conspiracy orchestrated by followers of an Islamic movement led by U.S.-based cleric Fethullah Gulen to discredit the government ahead of local elections in March.

The new Internet controls come as alleged police documents and photographs linked to the corruption probe have been leaked through the Internet.

A woman and man resist pressurized water used by riot police to dislodge them, as they stage a sit-in protest in Istanbul, Turkey, Saturday, Jan. 18, 2014. The two were protesting the detention of seven other leftist protesters. (AP Photo) ____________________________

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