Erdogan approves new “censorship” law
Turkey’s new media law introducing imprisonment for spreading “false information” online came into effect following Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s approval.
The controversial law that prompted heavy criticism for creating a censorship mechanism over dissident, published in the Official Gazette on Tuesday.
Turkish parliament on Friday adopted a new media law that criminalises the spread of “fake” news online.
The law proposed by Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right ally, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), containing of 40 articles, approved with the majority of votes, despite opposition parties’ disapproval.
According to the legislation popularly known as the “law on combatting disinformation", those who are deemed to have “publicly disseminated false information regarding national security, public order, or general public health that creates anxiety, fear, or panic among the population or disturbs public peace,” will face prison sentences of between one and three years.
If a court rules that someone spread misinformation as part of an illegal organization, the jail sentence will increase by 50 percent.
One of the most important concerns over the new legislation arises over the legal definition of false news.
The media and law circles say that in the law, there’s no objective or scientific standards that defines what it deems to be fake or lie, warning that this would lead to arbitrary practices.
Ahead of next year’s presidential and parliamentary elections scheduled for June, Turkish government aims to use this new law to put more pressure on dissident and prevent the spread of news that would further hurt its public support, according to the analysts.
And some argues that the main targets of the new law would be economists and economy-related reports.
The polls show among leading reasons for Erdogan’s losing the electorate’s support is country’s economic situation. People blame the government for mismanagement of the economy.
The legislation prompted reaction from local and international media organizations, as well as from Turkey’s opposition circles and the Western countries,
The Journalists Union of Turkey (TGS) declared a fight against the new censorship law, saying that they will put utmost effort in order to repeal the legislation.
“We are not going to be silent. We will not bow to censorship. We will continue to write, speak and convey the truth to the society” TGS said.
Slamming the government who introduced the legislation to the parliament of turning deaf to the objections of all professional media organization, TGS said the freedom of expression in Turkey was destroyed by the approval of the bill.
The PEN Turkey Writers Association on Saturday said the "Disinformation Law" would effect not only writers, journalists, or social media users but instead the whole society, adding that it is an attack on freedom of thought and expression.
“The purpose of the law is emphasized as ‘fighting fake news' and 'fighting disinformation', but in an environment where there is no trust left in the law or the justice system, and where the society is divided as 'either you are with us or you are a traitor', and discrimination is at its highest level, who and how can anybody decide which news story is a lie or not? Which news story reflects the truth or not? Who and how will anybody decide which information is true, which rumor is false, which can be spread and which should never be repeated,” PEN Turkey said.
Reminding the differences over inflation figures published by the state officials and independent research institutions, “Come on then, throw all of them in prison! Will it be a crime to say 'there is poverty in Turkey' or not? Can there be such an ambiguous law,” the organization said.