Outsourcing Censorship and Surveillance

The privatization of governance as an information control strategy in the case of Turkey 1

Authored by: Aras Coskuntuncel

The Routledge Handbook of Developments in Digital Journalism Studies

Print publication date:  August  2018
Online publication date:  September  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138283053
eBook ISBN: 9781315270449
Adobe ISBN:


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When Turkey’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) attempted to purge almost all dissent in the aftermath of the July 2016 coup attempt, 2 the state-run news agency, Anadolu Agency (2016), reported that police arrested 1,213 users because of their online activities, while Twitter and Facebook provided real-time data to help Turkish authorities identify these citizens. This was but one of the many examples of the privatization of governance online – outsourcing surveillance, censorship, and law enforcement functions to information intermediaries – in which the private intermediaries serve the political power. As part of the strategy to control the flow of information, the government’s efforts to privatize governance, surveil, and organize state-sponsored information campaigns intensified after the Gezi Park uprising in 2013. At that point, the party was already enjoying a clientelist 3 relationship with traditional media conglomerates, and since the 2002 elections, the AKP has given particular significance to exerting control over the flow of information and instrumentalizing media as a whole in favor of powerful interests while consolidating its undemocratic grip on power. This chapter analyzes the privatization of governance as one of the realigned strategies of information control in the digital era in the case of Turkey, as the political and economic elites adjust to incorporate digital technologies into the task of perpetuating power relations.

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