The bill imposes sweeping regulations on social media, requiring foreign social media companies such as Twitter and Facebook – more than 1 million users – a representative in the country. Under the new law, social media providers will be required to store home user data in Turkey, including a $ 1.5 million fine for failure to comply, as well as bandwidth restrictions and advertising restrictions.
The government defends the bill as an effort to protect around 55 million users in Turkey from disinfection. “The bill was drafted with an innovative approach to protect users, to stop users,” Ismail Sessur, an advisor to the president, said in a tweet.
“The bill aims to protect the basic rights and freedoms of citizens and get beyond it,” said Mahir Unal, deputy chairman of the ruling Justice and Development Party, in an interview with state broadcaster TRT.
Why are rights groups worried?
Critics fear that the new law will give a boost to social media companies against the government’s critical voices.
Turkey’s record on freedom of speech and expression is already on the decline. According to a report by Turkish Internet Freedom Watchdog Afed Ozguralgu Platu, more than 408,000 websites were blocked in Turkey by the end of 2019.
In the same period, 7,000 Twitter accounts, 40,000 tweets, 10,000 Youtube videos and 6,200 Facebook content were blocked. While some companies have complied with taking orders from Turkish courts for certain materials, other requests have been ignored.
The new law forces companies to follow take-down orders. “It is aimed at silencing criticism,” said Yemen Akdaniz, a cyber rights expert and law professor at Istanbul’s Bilgi University.
When does it take effect?
The law still needs to be approved by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan but at this point it is only a formality. He has already come out in favor of more regulations on social media platforms. The bill passed in Parliament gives tech companies until October to comply with the new law.
What are tech companies doing?
Social media companies have not yet reacted to the bill but cyber rights experts say the platforms should leave the Turkish market instead of following the new law. Akdaniz said, “I tell tech companies under these circumstances. Don’t come. If you do, you will become the long-arm of the Turkish judiciary system and you will be forced to comply with all requests.” The law in effect means that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram must decide whether to exit the lucrative Turkish market or stick around while pursuing new measures.
Facebook and Snapchat declined to comment, while Twitter did not respond to a request for comment.
Has this happened elsewhere?
The Turkish government says the bill has been enacted to make hate speeches online in Germany. “We saw Germany as our starting point to deal with disinfection, from ensuring our freedom to use social platforms, to protecting privacy and our data,” said Unal of the ruling party. said.
But rights groups have criticized the flawed German bill.
Germany’s director of human rights, Vangel Michelski, said in a statement, “It is vague, overlapping, and turns private companies into heavy fines to avoid sharp fines, giving users no judicial oversight or right to appeal . ” 2018
Akdaniz also warned that Turkey’s political climate, a steep decline in freedom of speech and a track record of silencing critics, “do not stand up compared to Germany.”