Turkey Passes New Internet Censorship Law, Cites Germany's Awful 'Hate Speech' Law As Its Inspiration

from the how-cosmopolitan dept

Turkey's president, Recep "Gollum" Erdogan, continues to use legislation to silence everyone that might possibly criticize or mock him. This has been an ongoing process, one that keeps getting worse with every iteration. A failed coup didn't help calm things down in Turkey, which is apparently hoping to pass China and take the top spot on the "journalists jailed" chart.

The latest law has a supposedly noble goal, but there's nothing noble about the propelling force behind it. The EFF reports another law giving the government even more censorship powers has been passed, thanks to Erdogan's inability to handle criticism.

[A] new law, passed by the Turkish Parliament on the 29th of July, introduces sweeping new powers and takes the country another giant step towards further censoring speech online. The law was ushered through parliament quickly and without allowing for opposition or stakeholder inputs and aims for complete control over social media platforms and the speech they host. The bill was introduced after a series of allegedly insulting tweets aimed at President Erdogan’s daughter and son-in-law and ostensibly aims to eradicate hate speech and harassment online.

So, it obviously isn't there to eradicate all hate speech and harassment. It's there to eradicate hate speech and harassment targeting Erdogan and other members of the government. A law like this being implemented by this government -- one with a long history of silencing/arresting/jailing critics -- will only be used to target citizens who aren't thrilled with their authoritarian "representatives."

Of course, the Turkish government won't bear the expense of keeping the country's internet free of Erdogan-bashing. That will rest on social media platforms. Once served with an order to remove content that "violates personal rights" and/or the "privacy of personal life," platforms will have 48 hours to take it down. If they don't, they'll face fines and -- in an unprecedented move -- the throttling of their bandwidth by up to 90% via local internet service providers.

To better facilitate censorship of Erdogan-related criticism, social media platforms will be forced to establish a local presence to expedite takedowns.

Once ratified by President Erdogan, the law would mandate social media platforms with more than two million daily users to appoint a local representative in Turkey…

The EFF's report highlights another disturbing aspect of the new law: it was inspired by legislation in countries that respect personal freedom and expression far more than Turkey has under Erdogan.

When introducing the new law, Turkish lawmakers explicitly referred to the controversial German NetzDG law and a similar initiative in France as a positive example.

Germany's "hate speech" law has been a solid generator of collateral damage since its inception. German lawmakers may believe they've ushered a new era of online enlightenment with the law, but it's inspired a number of censorial governments to create their own versions and point to Germany when anyone asks why they're silencing dissent and criticism. EFF says thirteen countries, including Venezuela, Malaysia, Russia, and the Philippines have all cloned NetzDG to better serve the continued restriction of their citizens' free speech rights.

And while Germany's law has effectively killed satire and chilled speech, at least it contains some limited restraints on the government via the court system. In Turkey (and other countries run by authoritarians), these checks and balances don't exist. Turkey's adoption of German legal principles takes the bad parts of the law and makes them even worse.

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Filed Under: censorship, free speech, germany, hate speech, turkey

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  1. icon
    Stephen T. Stone (profile), 5 Aug 2020 @ 3:55am

    Great, now Trump has an idea he can use for his possible second term.

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