Turkish lawmaker smashes phone with hammer in angry speech over social media law
Opposition politicians in Turkey have expressed anger over a law passed by Turkey’s parliament on Thursday that critics say will further tighten press and social media freedoms in the country.
In a surprising act of protest, opposition lawmaker Burak Erbay smashed his mobile phone with a hammer during a speech in the National Assembly in which he denounced a draft law that claims to fight fake news and “online disinformation”.
The EU has expressed concern that the draft law, proposed by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, will be used to suppress independent reporting.
“We fear that this could further reduce liberties, freedom of expression and independent media in Turkey,” European Commission spokesman Peter Stano said. “We are also particularly concerned about the provision of the law which provides for imprisonment for the crime of disinformation”.
“[The bill] contains vague and ambiguous language as to what constitutes false or misleading information,” he added.
According to the new law, social networks and websites must publish information about users suspected of “propagating false information”, while the accused can be sentenced to prison terms of up to three years.
The dissemination of “false information about the internal and external security, public order and general welfare of the country in order to create anxiety, fear or panic in the public” is prohibited.
The law was passed with the support of Erdogan’s ruling AKP party and nationalist allies as the country prepares for elections in June, where the incumbent will face voters frustrated by the faltering economy.
“Today is another dark day for freedom of expression online and media freedom in Turkey,” said Guney Yildiz, regional researcher at Amnesty International.
“After the government increased its control over the media in recent years, these new measures allow them to further censor and silence critical voices ahead of and after Turkey’s upcoming elections, under the guise of fighting disinformation,” he added.
The new law follows a law passed by Ankara in 2020 that forced social media platforms to comply with Turkish court orders to remove content reported by individuals or the government as offensive. 48 hours.
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