Prime Minister Erdoğan, in his weekly address to his group in Parliament, defended the bills expanding censorship and surveillance by referring to the recently released tapes of phone conversations that revealed corruption at extreme levels. The scandalous phone conversation between the Prime Minister and his son can be accessed here (http://erdogansdollars.blogspot.com.tr/).
Minutes after the phone conversation was uploaded on YouTube, people started downloading the video, and if they were unable to do that they started recording the voice on their phones. Only a few hours later, the original video was censored and in the morning it was not possible to browse to the exact URL of the tape.
The people who downloaded the video from YouTube, started uploading from different usernames and to other platforms as well. While the government was busy trying to accomplish Mission Impossible and censor the leaked phone conversation, people have found a new way of getting around censorship. Throughout the day, people have reported from all over the city that their cab driver put on an audio CD of the phone conversation when they took a cab, that some old gentleman on the bus shouted out “this is my debt to fellow citizens!” and turned on loudspeakers to broadcast the downloaded video, or that a lady on the ferry asked for the attention of all citizens who cared about the taxes they pay for the state’s services and used her phone’s loudspeakers to let everyone listen.
Before 24 hours had passed after the video was uploaded, 2.5 million people had viewed the original video and millions of others saw duplicates. And after work shifts at 7 p.m., at least 10 cities had mass protests calling for Erdoğan to resign. Police attacked with all the hatred they had towards peaceful protests, yet more and more people joined in. The Police may be the protector of the government, yet the people are furious to see one man calling his son to “melt the wealth” to avoid arrest, while citizens at home turn heaters down a bit more so they don’t spend everything they earn to pay the gas bill. Once this information is out there, there is absolutely no way of going back, as the people will find a way to spread this information.
When censorship aims for blanket coverage of information, other ways of spreading it emerge. People have reverted to Samizdat-style information sharing via Bluetooth on public transport, e-mail attachments, cassettes, and CDs. Censorship is a lost cause to begin with and in the end only helps the content reach more people.