'Don't confuse us with China,' says ruling AKP spokesperson over draft bill on social media
Hüseyin Çelik said that the draft bill prepared by the Justice Ministry would not implement bans on social media.The Turkish government will not implement bans on social media in a new draft on "crimes over the Internet," the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) spokesman has said, after the bill raised concerns over new restrictions on the web.
"Social media has to be monitored the same way as it is in the West. Bans are out of the question. They are probably comparing us with China. Even China cannot ban. People should get rid of their preconceptions," Hüseyin Çelik told private broadcaster TGRT today. "No one should expect any bans from us. [Social media] will be put on record the same way it is done in civilized countries."
The government had announced yesterday that it was launching a study to restrict social media in a reaction to the Gezi Park protests that have spread across the country in the last three weeks. The bill would target users who spread "false news," the Interior Minister Muammer Güler had said, emphasizing the need for a separate regulation.
Çelik also assured that the proposed draft would not be against European Union principles. "If you use Twitter for an instrument of sharing or socialization, we will bless it, but [not] if it becomes the place of unthinkable libels and insults," he said, adding that he was personally quite an active user of the social sharing site.
"I have 230,000 followers, even though I only use it in my spare time. Our youth branches use social media actively. Even before this protests started, we were a party that closely followed innovations," Çelik said.
During the protests, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan took a bold stance against Twitter, describing the micro-blogging site as a "troublemaker" on June 2. For his part, President Abdullah Gül, a very steady Twitter user as well, had warned of a "witch hunt" over Twitter. Dozens had been detained over tweets on Gezi Park protests.