The lawmakers in Turkey passed new legislation, on Wednesday morning, to monitor and control the contents on social media, undeterred by the apprehension caused due to the increasing censorship.
According to the law, social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, which have become an integral part of the daily life of the people, have to open new representative offices in Turkey, where they will deal with complaints against their content on their platforms. If the companies refuse, the government would impose strict penalties which include exorbitant fines, advertising bans, and slowing the bandwidths of the sites, making them broadly inaccessible to the users.
The main purpose of the individuals in these offices would be to respond to the requests and demands of the government and people to block or remove content present on their platforms that are believed to be offensive. They would have 48 hours to do so and could risk rigid financial penalties if they fail to comply.
However, the most startling part of the new law is that these social media companies are required to store user data inside the country, which raises the privacy concerns of many. With more than 408,000 websites blocked in Turkey and about 6000 removal requests to Twitter in the first half of 2019, the censorship of social media in Turkey is already quite stringent.
While the government maintains that the purpose of this legislation is to battle the cyber crimes and safeguard users by taking down posts that contain cyberbullying and insults to women, the opposition contends that in a country where the media is already under rigid government control, this law would further curb freedom of expression by silencing the voice of the dissent and criticism of the government.