Social Media: Prospect and Challenges

Turkey enacts Social Media Law


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: NA

Mains level: Need for social media regulation

Turkey’s parliament approved a law that gives authorities greater power to regulate social media despite concerns of growing censorship.

Unregulated social media promotes misinformation, hate speech, defamation, and threats to public order, terrorist incitement, bullying, and anti-national activities.

Turkey: The forerunner of cyber policing

  • Turkey leads the world in removal requests to Twitter, with more than 6,000 demands in the first half of 2019.
  • More than 408,000 websites are blocked in Turkey, according to The Freedom of Expression Association.
  • Online encyclopedia Wikipedia was blocked for nearly three years before Turkey’s top court ruled that the ban violated the right to freedom of expression and ordered it unblocked.
  • The country also has one of the world’s highest rates of imprisoned journalists, many of whom were arrested in a crackdown following a failed coup in 2016.

Features of the Law:

1) Appointing representatives:

  • The law requires major social media companies such as Facebook and Twitter to keep representative offices in Turkey to deal with complaints against content on their platforms.
  • If the social media company refuses to designate an official representative, the legislation mandates steep fines, advertising bans and bandwidth reductions.

2) Bandwidth reductions

  • Bandwidth reductions mean social media networks would be too slow to use.
  • With a court ruling, bandwidth would be reduced by 50% and then by 50% to 90%.

3) Privacy protection

  • The representative will be tasked with responding to individual requests to take down content violating privacy and personal rights within 48 hours or to provide grounds for rejection.
  • The company would be held liable for damages if the content is not removed or blocked within 24 hours.

4) Data storage

  • A most alarming feature of the new legislation is that SM companies would require social media providers to store user data in Turkey.
  • The government says the legislation was needed to combat cybercrime and protect users.
  • This would be used to remove posts that contain cyberbullying and insults against women.

Turkey seems to have given an attempt to regulate social media amidst the chaos. It lags on various fronts, making it realizable for India not to go hastily for such a regulation.

Concerns over the law

  • Hundreds of people have been investigated and some arrested over social media posts.
  • The opposition is pointing that the law would further limit freedom of expression in a country where the media is already under tight government control and dozens of journalists are in jail.

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