A new controversial Internet law in Turkey
The Law on Regulation of Broadcasts via Internet and Prevention of Crimes Committed through Such Broadcasts in Turkey has been recently amended and has entered into force on 1 October 2020. Turkish authorities have justified the change in legislation by the peculiarities of social networks’ communication. Social networks facilitate interaction of people from different cultures and geographies and violations of personal rights take place very quickly. A negative consequence of such expansion is that providers do not develop preventive mechanisms for the protection of individuals’ rights, and they even resist the demands of the users and the state. Therefore the state should fulfill its positive obligation to protect violated rights by taking the appropriate measures. Compared to the legal acts introduced in Germany, France and Great Britain the legal amendments of the regulation of social networks in Turkey follow a similar path.
According to Law number 5651, foreign social network providers are authorised to receive notifications, notices, and requests from public authorities and/or private individuals. They are also obliged to appoint at least one representative in Turkey and are entitled to notify the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (Authority). The foreign social network provider’s representative in Turkey might also be a legal entity established in Turkey.
The representative and/or representatives who are required to be appointed should pursue the following obligations:
- To fulfill the notice requirements, notifications or requests sent by the Authority, associations, judicial or administrative authorities;
- To respond to applications of the individuals;
- To provide reports;
- To fulfill the responsibilities arising from the role of the social network provider as a content or hosting provider;
- To fulfill all kinds of liabilities within the scope of the law.
Social network providers are obliged to notify the Authority regarding the identity, title, and contact information of the representative or representatives that they assign. Furthermore, any change in this information should be apprised to the Authority within 24 hours at the latest. Social network providers with less than one million daily accesses from Turkey may apply to the Authority with the claim to stay out of scope.
The law relies on a five-tiered sanction system for social network providers that fail to fulfill their obligations to appoint a representative and inform the Authority.
Foreign and domestic social network providers are mandated to respond to content removal requests within 48 hours at the latest in accordance with personal rights and right to privacy regulations. Individuals can file their requests in Turkish and the social network provider should answer those requests in Turkish.
Social network providers will inform the Authority about the measures taken, including the issues notified by the Authority in each reporting period. However, no penal sanction has been envisaged in case of a breach of this obligation.
ARTICLE 19, one of the most influential international organisations protecting freedom of speech, believes the new amendments will be used to further silence critical opinions in Turkey. The black statistics show that by the end of 2019, Turkey has blocked access to 408.494 websites. This draconian measure included Wikipedia, which was blocked for almost three years. WhatsApp access to Internet bandwidth has been significantly reduced so that the platform practically doesn’t work. State bodies tend to apply such approach during political events, where governments expect criticism. When commenting on the act, other experts express the opinion that “Turkey’s new Internet law is the worst version of Germany’s NetzDG yet adopted.”
Compiled by Media 21Foundation from: