Turkey: “Dark day for online free expression” as new ‘disinformation law’ is passed

Responding to the Turkish parliament passing the so called ‘disinformation law’ which tightens government’s grip over social media platforms and news websites while criminalizing the sharing of information that is deemed false, Güney Yildiz, Regional Researcher at Amnesty International, said:

Today is yet another dark day for online freedom of expression and press freedom in Turkey.

“Today is yet another dark day for online freedom of expression and press freedom in Turkey. Coming on the heels of the government’s increased control of the media over the last few years, these new measures enable them to further censor and silence critical voices ahead of Turkey’s upcoming elections and beyond, under the guise of fighting disinformation.

“In fact, rather than ensuring information safety, the law’s vaguely defined provisions facilitate further the prosecution of those who allegedly publicly disseminate ‘false information’ and could see people facing jail terms of up to three years merely for a retweet.

This legislation opens yet new avenues for the authorities to extend their draconian crackdown on freedom of expression and increase the chilling effect that fear of criminal prosecution brings.

“While states do have a role in regulating online expression in line with international law, this legislation opens yet new avenues for the authorities to extend their draconian crackdown on freedom of expression and increase the chilling effect that fear of criminal prosecution brings.” 

Background

The law introduces penalties. Anyone who publicly disseminates false information concerning the internal and external security, public order and public health of the country with the sole intention of creating anxiety, fear or panic among the public, in a manner likely to disturb public peace, shall be sentenced to imprisonment from one year to three years.

If the offense is committed by someone concealing their real identity or as part of the activities of an organization, the sentence would be increased by half.

On 12 October, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe urged the Turkish authorities not to enact this legislation, in light of the Venice Commission’s urgent opinion of October 2022.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact press@amnesty.org, +44 (0) 20 7413 5566, twitter: @amnestypress 

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