Ruling party to introduce further measures on social media platforms
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is preparing further measures on social network platforms under an omnibus bill that will come to the parliament’s agenda as part of the struggle against the novel coronavirus.
The bill aims to further regulate the legal responsibilities of social network providers, such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and increase control over the content of these platforms.
If the bill is adopted, the social network providers will be legally liable to the Turkish authorities by appointing their representatives in Turkey and if they fail to comply with the requirements, Turkish authorities will be able to limit their access by Turkish users.
The bill, called the “Draft Law on Amendment in Some Laws,” envisages amendments on the “Regulation of Internet Publications and Combating Crimes Committed through These Publications” and is expected to come to parliament next week.
According to the draft bill seen by the Hürriyet Daily News, the social network providers in Turkey or overseas, which have more than one million daily accesses in the country, will have to authorize a representative in Turkey, with the Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) or administrative authorities having to send a notification for the fulfillment of the requirements.
Within the scope of the amendment, real and legal persons that enable users to create, share or display content, information or data such as text, images, sound, location for social interaction in the internet environment are defined as “social network provider.”
The social network providers will be obliged to hosting the data of users in Turkey within the country.
The BTK will be able to make an on-site examination or have it done at the scene of the event if it deems it necessary to inspect social network providers. Law enforcement officers and other public institutions will provide “inspection support” to the BTK.
The BTK will be able to take to court to reduce the internet traffic bandwidth of the social network provider by 50 percent if it does not fulfill the obligation to determine and report a representative in Turkey. If the social network provider does not appoint a representative within 30 days despite the judicial decision, the BTK may apply to court to reduce the internet traffic bandwidth of the social network provider by 95 percent.
The social network provider will be obliged to respond to the applications about the contents within 72 hours. If it does not respond, the provider will be fined between 100,000 and one million Turkish Liras. The social network provider will implement the decisions to remove the content reported to it and / or to block access and will report to the BTK quarterly on reports containing statistical and categorical information about these applications.
In the event that the content determined by the judgment or court decision of unlawfulness is reported to the social network provider, if it does not remove the content within 24 hours despite the notification or does not prevent access to the content, the provider will be responsible for the compensation of the damages. If the content is not removed, the social network provider will be punished not only for producing the content but also for its publishing and dissemination.
Main opposition Republican People’s Party (CHP) deputy group chair Özgür Özel has said the government wants to control social media platforms with this bill.
“It seems that many communication applications, the most well-known being WhatsApp, will be under the control of the state,” he said at a press conference on April 9 and claimed that the AKP was after “opportunism” in the pretext of the struggle against the novel coronavirus.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Süleyman Soylu said social media was being used with aims of “misinformation” and to “deceive the public. Speaking in a televised interview on late April 9, Soylu said the government had taken measures against 4,186 social media accounts.
“Some 667 users have been identified and are being detained and a large part of them are unfortunately abroad. So FETÖ, DHKP-C and the PKK are in an effort to create chaos, to undermine confidence and to stir worry in Turkey,” he said.