'Winter is coming' for information freedom in Turkey, experts say

Strict restrictions on information freedom are likely to increase in coming years, expert Prof. Yaman Akdeniz said, adding that "winter is coming" for free roam of data in the country. An upcoming legal regulation by the ruling AKP against so-called "misinformation spread" is likely to limit freedoms further, Akdeniz added.

Günsu Durak / DUVAR

Restrictions on information freedom in Turkey have been mounting for a few years, and are likely to increase further under regulations disguised as "combatting disinformation," experts said. 

Access bans and removed news content have increased in 2020 in comparison to 2018 and 2019, expert Prof. Yaman Akdeniz noted.

An upcoming regulation by the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) is likely to cause an even more dire picture for information freedom in 2022, the expert noted. 

President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan announced on June 30 that his party would launch an "operation of truth" to combat fake news that he said was being dispersed by the opposition. He then ordered his executives to draft a new social media law targeted at "fighting misinformation and disinformation." 

"2022 is likely to be a difficult year for Internet and social media restrictions," Akdeniz said. "It's fair to say winter is coming."

A cult line from the hit HBO show Game of Thrones, "Winter is coming" is often used to signal ominous events on the horizon. 

Researcher Ozan Güven also noted that a recently passed law concerning social media platforms forced huge platforms to open up offices in Turkey, essentially rendering them liable for Turkish laws.

"The first six months of 2021 also saw ample access bans, especially on news reporting the claims made by [mafia leader] Sedat Peker," Güven said. "The censorship utilized in 2020 has already surpassed the level in 2021."