Turkish journalist unions have slammed the government's new draft law increasing the control over the internet and social media, saying that the move aims to further suppress the media in the country.
They said in a written statement that the new law might “lead to a severe censorship and self-censorship mechanism.” “We call for the immediate withdrawal of this bill which is understood to have been drafted to increase the oppression against journalism, not 'for the struggle against disinformation,'” they said.
The statement was signed by several press organizations including the Journalists’ Union of Turkey, TGS, the Journalists’ Association and the International Press Institute’s Turkey Committee.
The ruling coalition of the Justice and Development Party (AKP) and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on May 26 submitted to parliament the long-awaited bill that criminalizes so-called “disinformation” spread online. One of the most controversial articles of the bill is Article 29 which talks about the “struggle against disinformation."
“If a person spreads false information with regards to the country's domestic and external security, public order and general health in a way that that is suitable to disrupt the public peace, with the purpose of creating concern, fear or panic among the people, they will be sentenced to between one and three years,” the relevant article reads.
If the draft law passes the parliament, online news outlets will be required to remove “false” content, and the government may block access to their websites more easily.