Nergis Demirkaya / DUVAR
The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) has started to work on regulations that would control social media following President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s remarks on completely shutting the platforms or controlling them.
A draft of the bill consisting of nine articles on the issue has been ready for a long time, sources told Duvar, adding that the examinations regarding international regulations are ongoing.
“There are answers sought not only by us, but plenty of countries. Currently, it was planned as nine articles. There are a couple of issues that we need answers for,” an AKP official said.
“We need to work on it more. I’m not sure whether it can be ready before parliament enters a break,” the official added.
Erdoğan on July 1 said that necessary legal works are conducted in order for social media platforms to open legal and financial representations in the country.
“We need to do what’s necessary to ensure that. We’ll introduce access bans, as well as legal and financial measures,” he told AKP members.
The issue was introduced to parliament’s agenda in April as part of a bill that aimed to tackle the effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Several articles on making it obligatory for social media providers, such as YouTube, Twitter and Facebook, open representation offices in the country were added to the bill. It also stipulated giving these representations the obligation to collect users’ personal data in Turkey.
The articles were withdrawn over the possible debate that they would trigger in public. The AKP also sought more time to look into international regulations in more detail.
As these efforts were ongoing, the issue came to the agenda during the AKP’s Central Executive Board (MYK) meeting mid-last month.
In a presentation titled “New media order as a result of digital transformation,” AKP officials were reminded of the necessity of legal regulations on the subject.
In addition to opening representative offices, the social media platforms with over one million access would be obliged to respond to requests on violation of personal rights and the private life within 72 hours.
According to an AKP official, the works are based on “legal representations.”
“We shouldn’t see these as prohibitive measures,” the official said, while also giving online forum Ekşi Sözlük as an example.
“Posts in Ekşi Sözlük can be removed if there is a complaint following a legal process, because there is an addressee. However, you can’t do that on Twitter,” the official added.
Most recently, a Turkish court blocked access to forum pages on Ekşi Sözlük regarding First Lady Emine Erdoğan’s Hermes handbag that created controversy in the country due to its high price.
Another topic that the court blocked was on Erdoğan’s son Bilal Erdoğan being confused during a telephone call that was leaked in 2013.