Turkish Army Uses Algorithm to ‘Persecute’ Gulenists: Report

Photo Illustration: Markus Spiske

The report, "Algorithmic persecution in Turkey's post-coup crackdown: The FETO-Meter system" says more than 20,000 military personnel have been dismissed since a failed coup attempt in 2016 on the basis of algorithms.

"The report shines a flashlight on the (mis)use of algorithms and other information-based systems by the Turkish government in its ruthless counterterrorism crackdown since the July 2016 events. Thousands of people have been put out of work, detained, and persecuted by reference to 'scores' assigned to them by a tool of persecution, the so-called FETO-Meter," Ali Yildiz, one of the authors of the report and a legal expert, told BIRN.

Yildiz added that "this situation is far from being unique to Turkey: in an increasingly connected world where states make wider recourse to counter-terrorism surveillance tools, the possibility of falling victim to algorithmic persecution is high".

"The report, therefore, serves as a wake-up call to bring more awareness to the devastating effects of algorithmic persecution and oppression not just in Turkey, but also in the entire world," Yildiz added.

The so-called FETO-Meter is based on 97 main criteria and 290 sub-criteria, many of which violate individual privacy.

The name references alleged supporters of exiled cleric Fethullah Gulen whom the government calls FETO, short for Fethullahist Terrorist Organisation. US-based Gulen has always denied any links to terrorism.

The questions for profiling and scoring individuals include information of their marriages, education, bank accounts, their children's school records, their promotions and references in the army. The questionnaire demands information about people's relatives and also neighbours....

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