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Photo by Blue Coat Photos used under CC license.

The Association for Progressive Communications (APC) and IFEX submitted a written statement ahead of the Human Rights Council’s 36th session to express their grave concern about the growing crackdown on the use of secure digital communications, and in particular the arrest and pre-trial detention of IT consultant Ali Gharavi and non-violence and wellbeing trainer Peter Steudtner, together with eight Turkish human rights defenders.

States have the obligation to facilitate the use of secure digital communications, and should not be criminalising it.

As previous HRC resolutions have emphasised, the use of secure digital communications should be available to all people, including civil society in Turkey. Instead, the Turkish government is criminalising these tools, and intentionally conflating what are standard good security practices with terrorist activity.

Ultimately, this is a failing strategy. It fails to comply with Turkey’s human rights obligations by criminalising tools that are necessary for the exercise of human rights in the digital age; and it fails from a security perspective, because in the contemporary technological environment, intentionally compromising encryption, even for arguably legitimate purposes, weakens everyone’s security online.