The White House is ‘deeply concerned’ about Turkey’s Twitter ban


White House press secretary Jay Carney (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)

On Thursday night, many Turkish Twitter users found the social media network blocked, just hours after Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan decried the platform during a speech. And now the White House is weighing in. White House Press Secretary Jay Carney condemned the action in a statement on Friday:

The United States is deeply concerned that the Turkish government has blocked its citizens’ access to basic communication tools. We oppose this restriction on the Turkish people’s access to information, which undermines their ability to exercise freedoms of expression and association and runs contrary to the principles of open governance that are critical to democratic governance and the universal rights that the United States stands for around the world. We have conveyed our serious concern to the Turkish government, urge Turkish authorities to respect the freedom of the press by permitting the independent and unfettered operation of media of all kinds, and support the people of Turkey in their calls to restore full access to the blocked technologies.

The White House statement focused on the Twitter ban as both a freedom of speech and a freedom of the press issue. The response is in line with the State Department's definition of "Internet Freedom" -- a stated U.S. foreign policy priority. "Our goal," the State Department has declared, "is to ensure that any child, born anywhere in the world, has access to the global Internet as an open platform on which to innovate, learn, organize, and express herself free from undue interference or censorship."

State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki released a separate statement on the ban. "We urge the Turkish Government to unblock its citizens’ access to Twitter and ensure free access to all social media platforms," it reads. "Today's shutdown of Twitter is contrary to Turkey's own expressed desire to uphold the highest standards of democracy."

Andrea Peterson covers technology policy for The Washington Post, with an emphasis on cybersecurity, consumer privacy, transparency, surveillance and open government.
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