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Turkey approves social media law

Topics Covered: Cyber security related issues.

Turkey approves social media law

Context:

Turkey’s parliament has approved a new social media law that gives authorities greater power to regulate social media despite concerns of growing censorship.

Key provisions:

  1. The law requires major social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to keep representative offices in Turkey to deal with complaints against content on their platforms.
  2. If a social media company refuses to designate an official representative, the legislation mandates steep fines, advertising bans and bandwidth reductions.
  3. With a court ruling, bandwidth would be halved, and then cut further. Bandwidth reductions mean social media networks would be too slow to use.
  4. The representative will be tasked with responding to individual requests to take down content violating privacy and personal rights within 48 hours or to provide grounds for rejection.
  5. The company would be held liable for damages if the content is not removed or blocked within 24 hours.
  6. It also would require social media providers to store user data in Turkey.

Need for this law- govt’s arguments:

The government says the legislation was needed to combat cybercrime and protect users.

The law was necessary to contain cyberbullying and insults against women.

Concerns:

The new law is being called the “censorship law.”  It is because the law would further limit freedom of expression in a country where the media is already under tight government control and dozens of journalists are in jail.

The law would be used to remove content critical of the government rather than to protect users. This is a clear violation of the right to freedom of expression online and contravenes international human rights law and standards.

Background:

In recent times, hundreds of people have been investigated and some arrested over social media posts on the COVID-19 pandemic, opposition to Turkish military offensives abroad or insulting President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and other officials.

Turkey leads the world in removal requests to Twitter, with more than 6,000 demands in the first half of 2019.

More than 408,000 websites are blocked in Turkey.

Online encyclopedia Wikipedia was blocked for nearly three years before Turkey’s top court ruled that the ban violated the right to freedom of expression.

Sources: the Hindu.