Turkey has fined Facebook, Twitter, Periscope, YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram with 10 million lira each (US$1.18 million) for failing to comply with its new social media law. The penalty was imposed for the companies failing the specific requirement of appointing a local representative that would be answerable to the government and courts. have also been fined 10 million lira each. The fines, reported by Al Jazeera, were announced by Omer Fatih Sayan, chairman of Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority on Twitter.
The penalties are not unexpected, since they are laid out in the law, and given that Facebook had refused to comply when the law came into effect on October 1. If companies comply, Sayan said a quarter of the imposed fine will be collected.
The new law requires that platforms with over 1 million daily users in Turkey store user data locally, appoint a local representative to be answerable to the government, respond to content complaints within 48 hours, and implement court orders within 24 hours, among other things. The legislation was passed by Turkey’s parliament in July by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s governing Justice and Development Party (AK Party) and its ally Nationalist Movement Party.
According to the law, as well as Sayan’s reminders on Twitter, if the companies do not comply within another 30 days, they would be fined another 30 million lira each, which would be the second in a five-stage penalty for non-compliance. In another 30 days, the companies would be banned from advertising. If they are still non-compliant in another 3 months’ times, internet bandwidth will be throttled by 50% and later by 90%. Sayan said that Turkey simply wants its ruled to be followed, as laws in other countries are followed.
Human rights activists had urged technology companies to not bow down to requirements that they described as “draconian” and as another attempt by Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdogan to chill free speech. Erdogan already tightly controls conventional media platforms in the country. Earlier this year, Erdogan had declared that “immoral” social media platforms must be either “completely banned or controlled” after personal attacks were made on Twitter against his daughter and son-in-law after the birth of their fourth child.
The Erdogan government had justified the need for the social media law by stating that technology companies have failed to act against criminal activity such as sexual abuse, illegal gambling, fraud and support for terrorism.