What are the social problems in Turkey

censorshipTurkey wants to control social media tougher

The Turkish ruling party AKP has submitted a bill to regulate social networks. This stipulates that all social networks and news portals with more than one million daily users must have a formal representation in Turkey.

This representative office has to respond within 48 hours if postings violate personal rights or privacy, reports Al-Jazeera. If they fail to react, company representatives are threatened with criminal charges, according to Heise.de. In addition, the user data should have to be saved in Turkey.

Those who do not cooperate will be throttled

If a company does not have a representative office 30 days after the law came into force, the bandwidth of the respective provider should be reduced by 90 percent by default. That should make the services that do not want to cooperate unusable and thus unattractive.

"Our goal is to put an end to insults, abuse and harassment through social media," said deputy AKP parliamentary group leader Özlem Zengin at Al-Jazeera. The measures were aimed at "creating a balance between freedoms and rights and laws," the government politician continued.

The Turkish news website Bianet reports that the Turkish debate also referred to the German Network Enforcement Act (NetzDG). Gökhan Ahi from Bilgi University criticized Bianet of the law as a "law of self-censorship". He says that small adjustments to existing laws would have been enough to achieve the stated goal of combating hate speech. That is apparently not the point: "With this law, the government wants to reduce criticism on the Internet and in social media and to quickly access the identity of users with an anonymous account."

"Dark Times"

The digital civil rights activist Yaman Akdeniz points out that the Turkish law includes not only social media, but also news portals. Akdeniz believes that Turkey will take censorship to the next level with the law. Turkey expected dark times with the law: “If the proposal goes into effect, platforms will have to delete a news bulletin as soon as a court ruling comes. The same goes for Twitter, Facebook and YouTube. "

A number of entities already have the right to block websites, among them the association of access providers, the national lottery authority and the state religious authority, says Akdeniz. Another problem is that the judiciary does not work, it blesses politically motivated web blocks while rejecting complaints. A complaint against censorship before the Constitutional Court takes at least two and a half years, as in the Wikipedia case, usually significantly longer.

Akdeniz told Bianet: “I think the bill should be categorically rejected. Because there is nothing positive in it. It should be rejected by all opposition parties, social media platforms and users. "

NetzDG named as a model

The law was announced by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan in early July. Its AKP, together with the ultra-nationalist MHP, has a majority of MPs in parliament. Turkey has a long history of internet censorship. It was not until January that Wikpedia was made accessible again after a two-year ban. In the past, major social media outlets like Youtube were censored. Hundreds of thousands of websites and URLs are currently blocked.

After Singapore and Russia, Turkey is now another country with an authoritarian government that invokes the German NetzDG to restrict internet freedom. This was a point that critics warned about when the law was introduced in Germany.

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About the author

Markus Reuter

Markus Reuter deals with the topics of digital rights, hate speech & censorship, fake news & social bots, right-wing extremists online, video surveillance, basic and civil rights and social movements. At netzpolitik.org since March 2016 as an editor. He can be reached at markus.reuter | ett | netzpolitik.org and on Twitter @markusreuter_
Published 07/23/2020 at 7:45 AM