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Turkey: Erdogan’s party submits bill to regulate social media platforms

Illustration of the Facebook logo is displayed on a smart phone alongside other social media applications on 4 May 2020 [Hakan Nural/Anadolu Agency]
Illustration of the Facebook logo is displayed on a smart phone alongside other social media applications on 4 May 2020 [Hakan Nural/Anadolu Agency]

Turkey’s ruling party AK Party  submitted draft legislation to parliament that would enable the government to tighten its grip on social media, an official said today.

The submitted nine-article draft legislation will force social media companies with more than one million daily users in Turkey to establish a formal presence or assign a representative in Turkey.

“The main objective of this move is to have these social network providers [set up someone] in Turkey as our interlocutors. The absence of a legal interlocutor causes two main problems – first, in terms of financial and taxation issues, and second, in terms of sanctioning violations of individual human rights,” Özlem Zengin, the deputy parliamentary group leader of the AKP, told reporters in parliament.

A member of the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), Erkan Akcay, also stated that the regulations regarding social media are not a censorship law that prevents freedom of thought and expression.

However, Human Rights Watch (HRW) warned the steps come as part of Turkish efforts to introduce new powers to control social media, adding they will greatly increase online censorship, particularly in light of the country’s poor record on freedom of expression.

Earlier this month, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan hinted that the ruling party would take a step to impose strict control over social media platforms, including YouTube, Twitter and Netflix, due to insults that were directed at his daughter and son-in-law after they announced the birth of their fourth child on Twitter.

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