WASHINGTON—U.S. Senator Chris Murphy (D-Conn.), Chairman of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wisc.) Ranking Member of the Foreign Relations Subcommittee on European Affairs, introduced a resolution condemning the government of Turkey for blocking social media sites like Twitter and YouTube, and restricting the free expression of the Turkish people.

The touchstone of a modern and legitimate democracy is the freedom of expression enjoyed by its people. In 2014, a fundamental expression of that freedom is a people’s access to social media sites that allow them to share information and contribute to a conversation about the world around them,” said Murphy. “By allowing sites like Twitter and YouTube to remain blocked, Prime Minister Erdogan is defying an order from his very own courts. If the Turkish government wishes to move toward eventual integration into the European Union, they should reverse course and respect the right of the Turkish people to exercise their basic democratic freedoms.”

The Turkish government’s attempt to control what its citizens learn about their leaders reminds us how crucial the freedom of speech is. It also reminds us how cautious we must be about any changes in the oversight of Internet governance. The ability of any private citizen to compete openly in offering information to others has made the Internet one of the greatest deregulatory success stories of all time. The Turkish shutdown of Twitter and YouTube for political purposes shows the danger of foreign governments gaining control over this incredible forum for liberty,” Johnson said.

Full text of the resolution:

Condemning the actions of the Government of Turkey in restricting free expression and Internet freedom on social media.

Whereas an independent, unfettered media and freedom of expression, including on the Internet and social media sites, are essential elements of democratic, open societies;

Whereas infringement of press freedom in Turkey is a serious concern, with more journalists currently imprisoned in Turkey than in any other country;

Whereas millions of people in Turkey, including senior members of the Government of Turkey, use Twitter and other social media sites to communicate on a daily basis;

Whereas the Government of Turkey imposed a country-wide ban on access to Twitter on March 20, 2014, blocking the use of the communications platform to engage in political speech;

Whereas respected non-governmental organizations such as Amnesty International, Reporters Without Borders, and Freedom House have condemned the decision to block Twitter as an attack on internet freedom and freedom of expression in Turkey.

Whereas the President of Turkey, Abdullah Gul, defied the ban to send out a series of tweets questioning the government’s actions;

Whereas the Turkish Bar Association argued that the ban is unconstitutional and in violation of Turkish and European human rights laws; and

Whereas, on March 26, 2014, the Turkish district court in Ankara blocked implementation of the ban due to the restriction on freedom of expression and communication that are protected by the Turkish Constitution and the European Convention of Human Rights; Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That the Senate—

(1) condemns the Government of Turkey’s restrictions on freedom of the press, freedom of expression, and internet freedom in Turkey;

(2) recognizes the critical role that technology and social media sites play in helping independent journalists and the general public to communicate and access information;

(3) reaffirms the centrality of internet freedom to efforts by the United States Government to support democracy and promote good governance around the world;

(4) calls on the Government of Turkey to immediately end its restrictions on press freedoms, including social media, and restore access to Twitter.