Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan has become increasingly oppressive as he continues to strive to revive the Ottoman Empire. He deems Europe to be a “sick man” and “collapsing.” Now Erdogan is now more emboldened than ever after he has seized his latest conquest: Hagia Sophia. Erdogan is now tightening his grip. His Islamist party is pushing a bill “to crack down on citizen’s right to post freely on social media, forcing companies to censor or face fines and restrictions.” He also wants the identity of users unveiled.
Even worse, the Turkish government will also demand that social media companies hand over intel about users. This leaves dissidents of Turkey in precarious position:
The law requires international social media networks with over one million Turkish visitors daily — companies like Twitter and Facebook — to appoint a special representative to the Turkish government so that Erdogan has a direct line to them and can easily demand the erasure of content he disagrees with.
“Turkey Passes Law Mandating All Social Media Appoint Turkish Censor,” by Frances Martel, Breitbart, July 29, 2020:
Lawmakers in Turkey passed a law Wednesday requiring social media companies to appoint a “representative” to respond to government demands for censorship, a push President Recep Tayyip Erdogan vowed would occur after social media users mocked his newborn grandchild.
Erdogan’s Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP), the majority in the Turkish Parliament, pushed the law through with the help of its usual ally, the minority Nationalist Movement Party (MHP). According to the state-run Anadolu news agency, the law “sets a formal definition of social media providers and aims to designate a responsible representative for investigations and legal proceedings relating to offenses on platforms.” The law will take effect on October 1.
The law requires international social media networks with over one million Turkish visitors daily — companies like Twitter and Facebook — to appoint a special representative to the Turkish government so that Erdogan has a direct line to them and can easily demand the erasure of content he disagrees with. The representative will also presumably be responsible for content that violates Turkish law, such as insults against the president or insults against Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the founder of the Republic of Turkey (both are crimes). Any individual representing the country must be a Turkish citizen, which would protect Ankara from creating any international turmoil if police arrest them for alleged violations of the law.
“Social network providers would have 48 hours to respond to orders to remove offensive content,” Anadolu added. “Providers will also take necessary measures to store data on users in Turkey inside the country.”
Human Rights Watch issued a statement on Monday prior to the law’s passage warning that it would “greatly increase online censorship, particularly in light of the country’s poor record on freedom of expression.”
“It is essential for everyone who values and champions free speech to recognize how damaging these new restrictions will be in a country where an autocracy is being constructed by silencing media and all critical voices,” Tom Porteous, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch, said in the statement. “Social media companies should loudly and unequivocally call on Turkey to drop this law, and the EU should resolutely back this call.”
Erdogan heavily cracked down on national media in the aftermath of the failed coup against his government in 2016, which he blamed, without evidence, on Pennsylvania Islamic cleric Fethullah Gülen. Erdogan ordered police to shut down any media outlets suspected of being “Gülenist,” resulting in the immediate end of operations for 131 media outlets that year. In addition to those shut down, Erdogan seized opposition newspapers like Zaman, turning them into state propaganda outlets, or otherwise ensured the ownership of newspapers like Hurriyet, once reliably moderate in its coverage, fell into the hands of personal friends.
The law barreled through the Turkish parliament at high speed, a response to Erdogan’s public outrage on July 1 that some on social media had made jokes about the birth of his latest grandchild, born of his daughter and Turkey’s Finance Minister. Users reportedly joked that the child was not related to the finance minister, implying infidelity on the part of Erdogan’s daughter. The jokes prompted Erdogan to declare social media in general un-Turkish and threaten laws to punish those who would speak freely about him and his family on those platforms….