Social Media Faces Tighter Controls in Turkey Under Draft Law

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Turkey’s ruling party and its nationalist ally proposed legislation tightening government control over social media, delivering on a pledge made by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

The bill sent to parliament by Erdogan’s AK Party and its ally, the Nationalist Movement Party, requires social-media companies to appoint a local representative in Turkey. Those that don’t comply will have their internet traffic bandwidth slashed by up to 90%, according to the proposal.

It also requires firms to respond to requests to remove content deemed illegal by officials within 48 hours, or face a fine of as much as 30 million liras ($4.4 million), and to store data from users in Turkey on local servers.

Earlier this month, Erdogan reacted to what he described as insults over the birth of his eighth grandchild by vowing that “order should be introduced to social media.”

Turkey already monitors social media closely and has previously halted access to websites, including Twitter. The country ranks behind Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Azerbaijan in internet freedom, according to Freedom House, a U.S.-based non-governmental organization focusing on democracy and human rights.

The government in June accused Twitter of being a “propaganda machine” with political inclinations, after the social network suspended thousands of accounts allegedly aligned with the country’s ruling party.

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