Friday

1st Jul 2022

Turkey to fine social media giants under new law

  • Companies that fail to comply with the new law will face extra fines, a ban on advertising, or having bandwidth slashed by Turkish internet providers (Photo: Tom Raftery)

Turkey has fined top social media firms, including Facebook and Twitter, 10 million lire (€1.1m) each for failing to appoint a representative able to address complaints from state authorities, as required by a new social media law, deputy transport and infrastructure minister Ömer Fatih Sayan said on Wednesday (4 November).

The Turkish parliament, in July, passed a controversial legislation which aims to further strengthen state control of online platforms and users' data in the country.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The new law demanded foreign social media companies with more than one million users in Turkey to store their users' data in the country, and open an office staffed by at least one representative responsible for investigations and legal proceedings before a deadline of 1 October.

Additionally, the law forces social networks to remove content found to be offensive by Turkish authorities within 48 hours.

"Foreign companies operating in Turkey that reach more than one million people daily have been told about some rules they need to comply with," Sayan said on Twitter.

"With the legal period ending, social network providers that did not report a representative, namely Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube, and TikTok, have been fined 10 million lire," he added.

However, fines are just one of the series of court-ordered penalties "to encourage compliance" of social networks.

Those companies that fail to comply in 30 days from the formal notice will face an extra fine of 30 million lire (€3.3m), a ban on advertising, or having their bandwidth slashed by 50 or 90 percent by Turkish internet providers, essentially blocking access.

Social media platforms that have not appointed a representative will face extra fines in December that will lead to an advertisement ban in January and, finally, to a bandwidth cut that would begin in April, law professor and digital rights activist Yaman Akdeniz said on Twitter.

"This is the start of a long process, rather than the end of the story," Akdeniz said.

Akdeniz also described the situation as ironic since Turkish officials decided to use Twitter to announce the fines.

"I just wonder: if Twitter decides to not assign a representative in Turkey despite the fines, when would the government officials stop using Twitter and close their [own] accounts?," he tweeted.

Sayan said the aim of the Turkish authorities was not "to be in conflict with these providers serving billions of people around the world", but to ensure that social media networks followed the rules as they do in other countries.

If companies complied with the new rules, Sayan said that all restrictions will be lifted and only one-fourth of the 10 million lire administrative fines would be collected.

So far, only the Russian version of Facebook, VKontakte, appointed a representative before the deadline.

A report published earlier this year by the Istanbul-based Freedom of Expression Association indicates that 408,494 websites, and some 7,000 Twitter accounts, 40,000 tweets, 10,000 YouTube videos and 6,200 Facebook posts were already, legally, blocked in the country only last year.

In 2016, a Turkish man was senteced with one-year jail for comparing president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to the Gollum character from the Lord of the Rings since the Turkish penal code states that anybody who insults Turkey's president can face up to four years in prision.

Turkey is ranked 154 out of 180 countries in RSF's 2020 World Press Freedom Index.

Opinion

Turkey's smart game: keeping the EU divided

After a little over a year in Brussels as an MEP, and closely following the EU's foreign affairs, it astonishes me how ineffective the European Union leverages its power on the world stage.

Turkey's new social media bill under immediate fire

According to a spokesperson for the UN high commissioner for human rights, the draft law "would give the state powerful tools for asserting even more control over the media landscape".

EU leaders' social media 'fail' in first 40 days of pandemic

European leaders of countries hit worst by the first coronavirus outbreak failed to exploit the potential of social media, and their own millions of followers, to encourage citizens to comply with the rules, a new study has found.

Stakeholder

The CPDP conference wants multidisciplinary digital future

During the Computers, Privacy and Data Protection (CPDP) conference, many high-level discussions will touch upon the dynamics of decision-making in the design of new technologies, including the importance of inclusion, diversity, and ethics perspectives within these processes.

EU Commission won't probe 'Pegasus' spyware abuse

The European Commission says people should file their complaints with national authorities in countries whose governments are suspected of using an Israeli-made Pegasus spyware against them.

News in Brief

  1. EU Parliament 'photographs protesting interpreters'
  2. Poland still failing to meet EU judicial criteria
  3. Report: Polish president fishing for UN job
  4. Auditors raise alarm on EU Commission use of consultants
  5. Kaliningrad talks needed with Russia, says Polish PM
  6. Report: EU to curb state-backed foreign takeovers
  7. EU announces trade deal with New Zealand
  8. Russia threatens Norway over goods transit

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Canadian ministers join forces to combat harmful content online
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers write to EU about new food labelling
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEmerging journalists from the Nordics and Canada report the facts of the climate crisis
  4. Council of the EUEU: new rules on corporate sustainability reporting
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic ministers for culture: Protect Ukraine’s cultural heritage!
  6. Reuters InstituteDigital News Report 2022

Latest News

  1. Nato's Madrid summit — key takeaways
  2. Czech presidency to fortify EU embrace of Ukraine
  3. Covid-profiting super rich should fight hunger, says UN food chief
  4. EU pollution and cancer — it doesn't have to be this way
  5. Israel smeared Palestinian activists, EU admits
  6. MEPs boycott awards over controversial sponsorship
  7. If Russia collapses — which states will break away?
  8. EU Parliament interpreters stage strike

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us