Turkey passes controversial social media law to control content
Turkey has passed a law regulating social media that critics say will increase censorship and help authorities silence dissent.
President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling AK Party, which has a majority with an allied nationalist party, had backed the bill. The assembly began debating the new legislation on Tuesday, and its passage was announced by parliament on Twitter.
The law requires foreign social media sites to appoint Turkish-based representatives to address authorities’ concerns over content and includes deadlines for removal of material they don’t like.
Companies could be fined, the blocking of advertisements or have their bandwidth slashed by up to 90% essentially blocking access, under the new regulations.
Turkey’s new social media law:
– requires foreign SM companies including Facebook and Twitter to open local offices (to comply with Turkish content removal requests).
– non-compliers risk fines, ad blocks, or having their bandwidth cut by up to 90%, making them unusable
— Piotr Zalewski (@p_zalewski) July 29, 2020
The majority of Turkey’s mainstream media has come under government control over the last decade meaning Turks have taken to social media and smaller online news outlets for critical voices and independent news.
Turks are already heavily policed on social media and many have been charged with insulting the President or his ministers or criticising foreign military incursions and the handling of the pandemic.
Ahead of the bill’s passage, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights said the draft law “would give the state powerful tools for asserting even more control over the media landscape.”
Presidential spokesman Ibrahim Kalin said the bill would not lead to censorship but would establish commercial and legal ties with the social media platforms.
Turkey was second globally in Twitter-related court orders in the first six months of 2019 and had the highest number of other legal demands from Twitter.
President Erdogan has repeatedly criticised social media and said a rise of “immoral acts” online in recent years was due to the lack of regulations.
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