Turkey has decided to grant its citizens access to Wikipedia after a three-year ban—demonstrating just how restricted the Internet still is.
According to Bloomberg, the decision to lift the ban came after the nation's Constitutional Court ruled Wikipedia's prohibition in violation of free speech.
The ban was instated back in April 2017 after Wikipedia refused to remove accusations of terrorist cooperation by the Turkish government. According to the Wikipedia page dedicated to the ban, Turkey was portrayed as a sponsor for ISIS and Al-Queda.
While access to Wikipedia has been restored, its lawyers argue that it shouldn’t have been restricted in the first place.
"I shouldn't have to go to the Constitutional Court or go to the ECHR on such a matter," noted Gonenc Gurkaynak, one of the Wikimedia Foundation's lawyers. "More freedom of expression is needed in our country."
Indeed, the fact that it is even possible to limit the Internet in such a way brings to the surface an underlying—and often unspoken—truth: the Internet as we know it is centralized.
In reality, people—not companies or governments—have minimal authority when it comes to the Internet. Turkey isn't the first to impose its will on the web. China, too, has been a prolific censor of the Internet for decades, culminating in the banning of Google back in 2012. But sites in the West have also been censored. In October 2018, free-speech platform Gab shut down after web hosting companies refused to support it. It later pivoted to a blockchain-based version to survive.
Decentralize the web.
Many proponents of a free Internet are pushing to make it more decentralized.
On the 50th anniversary of the first electronic message sent over the Internet, Tim Burners-Lee—the inventor of the World Wide Web—presented a draft of principles and guidelines for governments and companies to abide by. The Contract for the Web, as it's dubbed, is designed to “protect the open web as a public good and a basic right for everyone.”
Berners-Lee has been working on making the Internet more decentralized for some time now. Since 2015, he has been busy tinkering with an open-source, decentralized web platform named Solid. This decentralized version of the Internet allows users to have more control over their data by providing tools for individuals to claim ownership and store their information.
But Burners-Lee isn't alone in this task. Twitter CEO and Bitcoin fanboy, Jack Dorsey, has designs of his own to create a decentralized standard of social media, with Twitter at the forefront of his plans.
"Finally, new technologies have emerged to make a decentralized approach more viable. Blockchain points to a series of decentralized solutions for open and durable hosting, governance, and even monetization." Dorsey explained, on Twitter.
And there's hope for Wikipedia too. There’s even a decentralized version of Wikipedia, called Everipedia, which runs on the EOS blockchain. When Wikipedia co-founder Larry Sanger heard about the project, he jumped on board, fixed many of its problems and is working hard to make it take off. But with the EOS network totally congested, he has his work cut out.