Turkey passes controversial social media bill


Turkey’s Parliament has passed a controversial bill which critics say will increase government censorship of social media and help authorities silence opposition.

The bill was submitted by the ruling Justice and Development (AK) Party and its nationalist partner, the National Movement Party (MHP), which have a majority in the parliament.

Under the new law, foreign social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter have to appoint Turkish-based representatives to address authorities’ concerns over content and includes deadlines for removal of material they take exception to.

The law, which targets social networks with more than a million unique daily visits, also says servers with Turkish users’ data must be stored in Turkey.

Companies who fail to comply could face fines, the blocking of advertisements or have bandwidth slashed by up to 90 per cent.

The presidency argues that the bill would not lead to censorship but would establish commercial and legal ties with the social media platforms.

Turkey was second globally in Twitter-related court orders in the first six months of 2019, according to the company, and it had the highest number of other legal demands from Twitter.

Erdogan has repeatedly criticised social media and said a rise of “immoral acts” online in recent years was due to lack of regulations.

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