Twitter could be shut down by Turkey’s new censorship law, human rights lawyer says

Twitter could be shut down by Turkey’s new censorship law, human rights lawyer says
A+ A-
The chances of entering next year’s elections without this platform are higher than ever, according to Kerem Altiparmak

Turkish human rights lawyer Kerem Altiparmak warned that Turkey could even shut down Twitter if the parliament approves the new censorship law. 

“If the law passes, either Twitter and other social media companies will do whatever the government wants, or risk being shut down,” Altiparmak said via social media on Wednesday.

“So, the chances of entering the election without this platform are higher than ever before,” he said.

This week Turkish parliament started reviewing a new bill which criminalises the spread of “fake” news online.

The controversial bill that was heavily criticised for creating a censorship mechanism and seen as a move of the government to further tighten its grip on dissident, will introduce prison sentences up to three years for “disinformation”.

The bill popularly known as the “law on combatting disinformation" was proposed to the parliament by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and its far-right ally, Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) in May.

If the parliament approves the bill containing of 40 articles, 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. 

“People have largely focused on the provision of disinformation regarding the censorship law. But there are much more dangerous provisions in the law. The effort to align social media companies that have been tried and failed before may yield results this time and even Twitter may be shut down,” Altiparmak said.

According to the bill, the social network provider has to comply with the decision of the head of Turkey’s Information Technology Authority (BTK) to remove content, Altiparmak said, adding that the provider also has to respond to the prosecutor's request for identity information in terms of certain crimes, including the crime of disinformation.

“If these demands are not met, the bandwidth will be reduced by 90 percent,” Altiparmak said. 

In some cases, even the law enforcement has the right to request information, he said.

Pointing out that unlike previous regulations, the social media companies will also have to appoint representatives to Turkey, according to the new law, Altiparmak said that serious monetary sanctions against these companies would be imposed, including fines of up to three percent of their global turnover.