Turkey’s government will restrict 90 percent of traffic to social network platforms that receive more than 1 million visits per day if the companies do not establish a legal presence in Turkey, according to a draft bill submitted to parliament by the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP).
“The main objective of this move is to have these social network providers [set up someone] in Turkey as our interlocutors. The absence of a legal interlocutor causes two main problems – first, in terms of financial and taxation issues, and second, in terms of sanctioning violations of individual human rights,” Özlem Zengin, the deputy parliamentary group leader of the AKP, told reporters in parliament on July 22.
The government does not want to shut down social media platforms as it is aware of their place in people’s lives,
Zengin said. “[The bill introduces] a five-stage sanction process while it seeks to establish balance between freedoms and laws.”
Zengin said the nine-article bill highlights “social network providers” as a new definition in the Turkish legal system and obliges them to have a presence in Turkey as a counterpart for the Information Technologies and Communication Authority.
The bill concerns social network platforms like YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and others, although Zengin refrained from naming any specific providers.
According to the draft bill, if these platforms don’t establish representation in Turkey, their internet traffic will be restricted first up to 50 percent and then up to 90 percent with court decisions.
The platforms will have to retain data about their Turkish users in Turkey, the bill suggests, envisioning legal methods to remove content. The platforms will have to respond to the applications for the removal of content within 48 hours and will be fined if they do not abide by the rules.
“We are expecting a response from these social network platforms within 48 hours. Their response would be either positive or negative. If they return down a request for the removal of a content they have to explain their reasons,” Zengin said.
“We want to end insults and abuses on social media,” she said.
Earlier in July, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan hinted that the ruling party would take a step to impose strict control over social media platforms, including YouTube, Twitter and Netflix, due to insults that were directed at his daughter and son-in-law after they announced the birth of their fourth child on Twitter.
“We are working on a legal regulation. This kind of media does not suit this nation, this country,” he said at the time.