YouTube, social media targetted by new censorship law in Turkey

A draft law submitted to the Turkish parliament will place all digital broadcast platforms under the control of Turkey’s state regulatory agency, the left-wing Turkish newspaper Sözcü reports.

The proposed law will require any licenced company that wishes to broadcast over the internet to secure a separate licence from the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK), Turkey’s state agency for monitoring and regulating broadcasts, according to Sözcü’s news.

Companies which are unable to obtain a licence, or which have their licence revoked, could be shut down by order of a court of peace within 24 hours, and without a court hearing. Appeals would be heard by the criminal court.

If passed, the law could affect social media, as well as traditional internet broadcasters such as YouTube and Netflix.

Turkey’s ruling Justice and Development Party has a history of internet censorship and shutdowns, prompting the human rights organisation Freedom House to downgrade the country to “not free” on its freedom on the net index in 2016.

The proposal signals an attempt to further tighten censorship in Turkey, according to RTÜK member İlhan Taşçı. Sözcü quoted Taşçı’s warning that the law would entirely encompass social media, and would be a “blow” to freedom of communication, which is protected in the Turkish constitution.

Deputy Prime Minister Bekir Bozdağ denied that the aim of the proposal was to censor internet sites.