Turkey’s Presidency of Telecommunication & Communication (Telekomunikasyon Iletisim Baskanligi – TIB) – the department which oversaw the application of the country’s website blocking laws – has been scrapped via decree and its functions merged into the telecoms regulator, the Information Technology & Communications Authority (Bilgi Teknolojileri ve Iletisim Kurumu – BTK), which previously oversaw the TIB’s operations. Turkish daily newspaper Evrensel.net reports that the TIB was closed via decree No. 671, as confirmed by a government spokesperson, following a statement by President Erdogan on 2 August in which he disclosed that the TIB – which operated as a department of the BTK – would have all its powers transferred to the parent authority which would now directly ‘take all necessary steps’. In the wake of the recent attempted military coup in Turkey, the TIB blocked various websites including news sites (under the Internet Act of May 2007) as part of a wider government crackdown which has seen around 130 media/publishing outlets shut down, but the department itself has now been removed amidst a large-scale ‘purge’ of civil servants. Over 81,000 people have been sacked from various institutions, including state-run organisations such as the Ministry of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications (UBAK) – the top level policy maker for the ICT sector – which has lost 529 officials. Turkey has closed more than 2,000 institutions suspected by the government of being linked to the coup plot.
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