A draft legislation that seeks to criminalize the spread of what the government calls “disinformation” on internet, is moving toward a vote in the Turkish parliament. The bill has been approved by the Justice Commission of the parliament and will be brought to the agenda of the General Assembly for a vote.
Prof. Yaman Akdeniz, a prominent academic and cyber-rights expert, said that the new law will make it further easier for the government to put its critics on trial and will create a “climate of fear” ahead of the 2023 elections.
“It will pass the parliament in an instance; whatever the opposition says nothing will change. The moment these amendments are legalized, they will turn into one of the most important weapons of the [ruling Justice and Development Party] AKP before the 2023 elections and the new amendments will create a 'climate of fear.' I can even be prosecuted [with the new law] for writing this. One does not need to be a legal expert to realize this,” Akdeniz said on social media.
1. Beklendiği gibi "Halkı yanıltıcı bilgiyi alenen yayma" suç teklifi dahil olmak üzere Basın, İnternet ve Elektronik Haberleşme kanunlarında yapılacak değişiklikleri içeren teklif Adalet Komisyonundan da geçmiş. Mecliste de işi çabuk bitirirler.— Yaman Akdeniz (@cyberrights) June 16, 2022
“Hundreds of people will stand trial on the crime of 'spreading information misguiding the public.' Those that show their reaction to these trials by saying 'This is too much' will also be prosecuted,” he said.
“The arrow has already left the bow. The target [of the government] is freedom of expression and media. Sixteen Kurdish journalists, who were under detention for the last eight days, were arrested last night. This is the situation. We will never stay silent,” he further said.
The ruling coalition of the AKP and Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) on May 26 submitted to parliament the long-awaited bill that demands up to three years in jail for those spreading so-called "disinformation" on internet.
One of the most controversial articles of the bill is Article 29 which talks about the “struggle against disinformation." If the draft law passes the parliament, online news outlets will also be required to remove “false” content, and the government may block access to their websites more easily.