We call not only citizens, but also all universities, companies, chambers of commerce, local municipalities, and public institutions to oppose these censorship regulations. If enacted this legislation will mark the #EndOfNews | #SayNo2Censorship #DontTouchMyInternet
In order to regulate social media networks, the Justice and Development Party (AKP) has brought a new nine-article legislation proposal to the Parliament today, which includes a set of restrictive measures such as the obligation of each social network to have a representative present in Turkey for the removal of illegal content and delivery of user information when requested, the obligation to store Turkey users’ information in Turkey, in addition to a number of other measures aiming to restrain social media usage.
Government officials are noting that these amendments will ensure that the crimes committed on social media platforms will not go unpunished. Beyond its deceptiveness, this statement is false. The legal regulations in Turkey (primarily the Turkish Penal Code, the Anti-Terror Law, and the existing special laws) are more than enough for conducting judicial proceedings against all the alleged crimes committed on the internet, and most of the time, these laws are instrumentalized solely for the purpose of censorship. Moreover, the existing legislative regulations are used in order to delimit freedom of expression apart from the punishing of perpetrators of hate speech and defamation. To a very large extent, traditional media remains in the grip of the government, which aims to silence free and independent reporting, citizen journalism, the expression of social demands and leave no room for divergent discourses. What lies at the roots of these amendments is the idea of exposing citizens to stricter surveillance and control.
National authorities present the laws in countries such as Germany and France as justification for the newly proposed amendments. These exemplary laws in the mentioned countries are used for the protection of discriminated and disadvantaged populations exposed to hate speech, whereas in the case of Turkey, such regulations will evidently become a revenge weapon in the hands of the government, at its own disposal. Therefore the statements of these officials, claiming similar laws being enacted in western countries, cannot be said to reflect the truth.
The imposition of these restrictions on multiuser social media platforms introduce the risk of restraint of even the personal posts of many citizens. If accepted, this regulation will result in the censoring of not only the presently popular social media platforms but also the applications and platforms we as users might choose to sign up for in the future.
There will remain no impediments before the legal collection of personal data and sharing of it with different companies and institutions by social media companies, which are already conducting illegal data acquisition for commercial purposes through different ways and methods. The legalization of this proposal is worrisome in terms of the rights to information, free speech and internet usage, considering how imposing social media companies the obligation of having present a representative amounts to the obligation of sharing personal data with state institutions, in addition to the expected restriction of users’ preferred names in creating accounts which results in the violation of citizens’ rights to privacy and security.
Rejecting these regulation attempts which will prevent us from exercising our fundamental rights and freedoms on the internet, we call not only citizens, but also all universities, companies, chambers of commerce, local municipalities, and public institutions to oppose these censorship regulations. If enacted this legislation will mark the #EndOfNews