Ruling AKP official urges up to five-year jail sentence over social media 'misuse'

An MP from Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and member of the parliamentary Constitution Committee has called for up to five years of imprisonment over what he labelled the misuse of social media.

The remarks by Ali Özkaya arrive as the Turkish government prepares to intensify a crack down on social media through the creation of a social media watchdog in a bid to control the spread of “disinformation’’ through such platforms.

“Penalties such as a one to five year prison sentence and ban from social media should be handed down to those engaging in disinformation on social media,’’ T24 news site cited the AKP lawmaker as saying.

Özkaya cited the example of Germany, where he said similar measures are in effect, adding, “Turkey must absolutely introduce such a punishment.’’

The AKP lawmaker spoke on the government’s plans for introducing a social media watchdog, which it will bring to parliament in October, according to Hürriyet newspaper.

Özkaya said plans by the Turkish government were not an effort for censorship, but rather a way to target online crimes, and the linked concern of fake accounts, which makes it difficult to target perpetrators.

Last July, the AKP passed a heavily criticised social media law that requires social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter to maintain representative offices in Turkey to answer judicial requests or face heavy fines and restrictions on their bandwidth.The move has been seen by critics as part of an attempt by the Turkish government to stifle dissent.

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