Articles

Bill on the Regulation of Social Media

2020, Erdemir&Özmen Attorney Partnership

Bill on the Regulation of Social Media

Today, upon almost every age group commits the frequent and uncontrolled use of social media, it has been envisaged to issue legal arrangements on the regulation of social media in order to put an end to the harassments and insults on social media and thus, the relevant “Bill on Making Amendments to the Law on Regulation of Publications on the Internet and Combating Crimes Committed by Means of Such Publication”, consisting of 11 articles, has been prepared.

Under the social media bill, it is aimed to regulate the publications in internet environment and to fight against the crimes committed through internet. Within this scope, the provisions prescribed by the Bill on the Regulation of Social Media are mainly as follows:

It is prescribed that the social network providers shall mandatorily assign a representative 

It is envisaged to lay down the condition “assignment of representative” on the social network providers. Within this scope, it will be mandatory to designate at least one person as a representative in Turkey, for the social network providers whose networks are accessed by more than 1 million visitors on a daily basis. The social network provider is obliged to declare to the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (“ICTA”) the identity and contact information pertaining to this person. In case the representative is a real person, the representative must absolutely be a Turkish citizen.  

The designated representatives shall serve in order to reply the applications that will be submitted by persons in relation to violation of their personal rights and their right to privacy and in order to ensure that necessary actions are taken for the notifications, notices or requests that will be transmitted by competent authorities.

In case the social network provider does not designate a representative or does not fulfill its obligation to declare its representative, the Authority shall make the relevant notification to the network provider. In case the above obligations are not fulfilled within 30 days as from the notification, an administrative fine in the amount of TRY 10,000,000 shall be imposed on the social network provider by the Telecommunications Communications President.

In case the above obligations are not fulfilled within thirty days as from the notification of the administrative fine imposed, a further administrative fine in the amount of TRY 30,000,000 shall be imposed on the social network provider.

In case the aforementioned obligations are not fulfilled within thirty days as from the notification of the second administrative fine imposed, the Telecommunications Communications President shall prohibit the taxpayer real and legal persons domiciled in Turkey to give a new ad to the relevant social network provider; within this context, a new contract shall not be established and the relevant money transfer shall not be made. In case the obligations referred to above are not fulfilled within three months as from the date of the decision on the advertising ban, the Telecommunications Communications President may apply for the competent criminal court of peace in order that the social network provider’s internet traffic bandwidth is narrowed at the rate of fifty percent.  

In case these obligations are not fulfilled within thirty days following the enforcement of the judge’s decision accepting the application, the Telecommunications Communications President may apply for the competent criminal court of peace in order for the social network provider’s internet traffic bandwidth to be narrowed by ninety percent.

The social network provider is expected to publish a report once every six months

It is stipulated that the Country or foreign-based social network providers, which are accessed by more than one million visitors on a daily basis, reply positively or negatively within 48 hours the applications that will be submitted by the persons in cases of violation of their personal rights and their right to privacy.

In case the reply to such application is negative, the imposition of “the obligation to give justification” on the social network provider, and in case the social network provider does not fulfil this obligation, the imposition of an administrative fine in the amount of TRY 5,000,000 on the social network provider are also included in the scope of the legal arrangement. 

In order to determine to what extent and in how much time the decisions of judicial and administrative authorities and the requests of the users are fulfilled by the network providers, the network providers shall be required to submit the reports containing statistical and categorical information in Turkish, and it will be necessary for the network providers to publish these reports. It is envisaged to impose a fine in the amount of TRY 10,000,000 in case this obligation is not fulfilled.

It is envisaged that the users’ data are in Turkey

It will be regulated that the social network providers take measures necessary for hosting in Turkey the data of their users in Turkey. The legal arrangement contains a provision stipulating that the network provider shall compensate the resultant losses and damages in case the access to the content is not blocked and the content is not removed within 24 hours although the content, determined to be unlawful by the decision of the judge or the court, has been notified to social network provider.  

A gradual blocking shall take place against the networks that do not fulfill this obligation. At the first step, their internet traffic bandwidth will be narrowed at the rate of 50 percent and subsequently, at the rate of 95 percent.

It is envisaged to remove the content, instead of blocking access

Instead of the decisions ordering blocking of access to the publications in internet environment, such as the publications which encourage suicide, contain sexual abuse of children, facilitate the use of drugs or stimulants, contain supply of health-endangering materials, or contain obscenity, prostitution or gambling; it is prescribed that a decision shall be rendered for the removal of such content from internet environment, in cases where this is possible. The same provision shall also apply to the cases aiming at violation of personal rights in internet environment.

Thus, it is requested that a legal arrangement be also introduced with regard to the listing of the content by search engines although the content has been removed and that the applicant’s name be not associated with the violation-related content by those search engines.

Therewithal, it will be mandatory of the social network providers to reply the complaints about any contents within 24 hours or in no later than 48 hours; and if they do not fulfill this obligation, administrative fine shall be imposed on those social network providers.  

Conclusion

The aforementioned Bill has been prepared for the purpose of finding addressees acting on behalf of social network providers, in order to overcome the difficulties experienced with regard to the public institutions’ notifications or the internet users’ personal applications in our Country. The Bill has been submitted to the Justice Commission on 21.07.2020 and it is expected that the Bill will pass into law after it is reviewed by the Commission.  

The full text of the Bill in Turkish is accessible at:  

https://www2.tbmm.gov.tr/d27/2/2-3050.pdf

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