Turkey to use ‘vague’ social media law to target journalists – CPJ
Turkey will use legislation aimed at combatting disinformation as an extra tool to prosecute journalists, the Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) said on Wednesday.
Lawmakers from Turkey’s governing Justice and Development Party (AKP) and their Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) political allies presented the vague legislation to parliament on May 27. It amends the penal code and press and internet laws.
The legal changes add an article to the Turkish penal code providing for jail terms of up to three years for those found guilty of spreading misleading information. The legislation does not define what constitutes misleading information or who defines what it is.
“Turkey has many vague laws already used to prosecute and imprison members of the media. This addition of prosecuting disinformation within the Turkish legal system will only function as a similar tool. Who will decide what is and is not ‘disinformation’? More importantly, how?” said Gulnoza Said, the CPJ’s Europe and Central Asia program coordinator.
“The Turkish authorities should not adopt the proposed law, should restrain from criminalising so-called disinformation, and stop seeking more control over the internet.”
The bill also requires local representatives of social media platforms with over a million users to reside in Turkey, allowing the authorities to prosecute them if they wish, the CPJ said. It also brings more detail of existing obligations of social media companies, making it easier for the authorities to remove internet content, the CPJ said.