Turkey’s new social media bill under immediate fire

Sallie Anderson

Turkey’s parliament passed early on Wednesday (29 July) a bill regulating social media which intends to even more enhance state control of online users and platforms’ information in the nation.

Leading human rights groups voiced immediate issues about the “far-reaching” changes to the law in Turkey, backed by president Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s judgment AK party and its allied nationalist party MHP.

The new bill needs foreign social media business with more than a million users in Turkey store their users’ information in the nation, and open an office in the nation staffed by a minimum of one representative able to deal with problems from state authorities.

To do so, a new meaning of “social media provider” will be presented, with a clear representative accountable for examinations and legal procedures.

Furthermore, social networks will be required to eliminate content discovered to be offensive by Turkish authorities within 48 hours.

Nevertheless, the bill likewise presents a series of court-ordered charges “to encourage compliance” with the new guidelines – consisting of fines as much as EUR50 m, obstructing marketing, or having actually bandwidth slashed by Turkish web companies, basically obstructing gain access to.

“Our first priority is never the closure of social media providers. We aim to end insults, bad language and harassment on social media,” stated AKP lawmaker chair Özlem Zengin recently, including that the bill intends to stabilize flexibilities with responsibilities.

The MHP, on the other hand, on Monday (27 July) required the new bill to likewise consist of a restriction on virtual private networks (VPNs) as they are typically utilized in Turkey to prevent existing constraints.

‘ Effective state tool’

Human rights groups stated that, if embraced, the new legislation may even more weaken flexibility of expression and compromise independent journalism in the nation.

“It is essential for everyone who values and champions free speech to recognise how damaging these new restrictions will be in a country where autocracy is being constructed by silencing media and all critical voices,” stated on Monday Tom Porteous from NGO Person Rights Watch.

“Social media companies should loudly and unequivocally call on Turkey to drop this law, and the EU should resolutely back this call,” he added.

According to a representative for the UN high commissioner for human rights, the draft law “would give the state powerful tools for asserting even more control over the media landscape”.

On The Other Hand, Amnesty International advised Turkish authorities to bin the bill and carry out the judgments of the European Court of Person Rights, which discovered Turkey in infraction of the right to flexibility of expression – when the nation obstructed Wikipedia in 2017.

The new bill seems the most recent action in Turkey’s long list of social media and web constraints inside the nation.

A report released previously this year by the Istanbul-based Flexibility of Expression Association suggests that 408,494 sites, and some 7,000 Twitter accounts, 40,000 tweets, 10,000 YouTube videos and 6,200 Facebook posts were currently, lawfully, obstructed in the nation just in 2015.

The Committee to Secure Reporters (CPJ) stated that the new bill is “a blatant attempt” to make international business accountable for censoring on behalf of Turkish authorities.

“For years, social media posts have been used to prosecute Turkish journalists, and the proposed measures would put them even more at risk for sharing information with the public,” stated Gulnoza Said from the CPJ in a declaration.

Turkey is ranked 154 out of 180 countries in RSF’s 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

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