Evolution, apparently, ranks alongside pornography and terrorism as topics that the Turkish government's controversial new Internet filtering scheme keeps out of the hands of children. Internet users in Turkey were surprised yesterday to find that several educational Web sites about evolution, such as this one, were inaccessible. After Hürriyet Daily News reported the censorship yesterday, the government reversed the block today. But science advocates and Internet freedom activists say it's a worrying sign of the government's attitude toward evolution.
Turkey's filtering program, which was launched at the end of November, has drawn broad criticism because it filters sites about political opposition to the government and blocks sites that go against "Turkish values." Internet users have the option to select either a "family" or "child" level of access; the Turkish Information Technologies and Communication Authority sets the content of each of these options.
The blockade of evolution sites came to light when one block was accidentally discovered and reported to the media, Aykut Kence, a biologist at Middle East Technical University in Ankara, told ScienceInsider in an e-mail. The fact that the sites weren't blocked to every user, only children, "is important in that it shows the mentality of people censoring the websites," Kence wrote. "Apparently they thought that this was deleterious for kids."