New regulation requires Internet broadcasting platforms in Turkey to secure permission from MİT, police

A new regulation will oblige Internet broadcasting platforms such as Netflix to secure permission to operate from Turkey’s National Intelligence Organization (MİT) and the local police department, the Cumhuriyet daily reported on Monday.

In February a bill empowering Turkey’s Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) with control of Internet broadcasting was passed in parliament and signed by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan.

Since then RTÜK and Turkey’s Telecommunications Authority (BTK) have been working on regulations for the Internet monitoring law, reportedly preparing a 24-article draft.

The bylaw which will allow for Turkey’s state-run broadcasting watchdog to censor all internet broadcasting platforms has been approved, left-wing Evrensel daily reported.

The Turkish state agency for monitoring, regulating, and sanctioning radio and television broadcasts (RTÜK) met on Tuesday to discuss the bylaw regarding radio and TV programs aired online, Evrensel said. The bylaw, which will also require that TV stations receive a permit from RTÜK to begin broadcasting online, was approved by a majority rule following a four-hour meeting, Evrensel said.

Under the leadership of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), RTÜK took a strict approach with TV stations, slapping channels with large fines for what they say is “offending societal values.’” Consequently, many Turkish television producers now opted to share their work online, which is now set to be under the aggressive watchdog’s mandate.

Opposition deputy and RTÜK board member İlhan Taşcı spoke against the new bylaw, saying, “What is the aim of this? If this bylaw comes into effect then everything, including who watches what for how long will be on the record. This data is regarding people’s private lives. It may start with your name and surname and continue with your address before going all the way into visual and audio monitoring.’’

Turkish authorities have in the past blocked access to Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, citing national security concerns. Wikipedia has been banned in Turkey for over a year, due to what officials call a “coordinated smear campaign’’ against the country.

According to Cumhuriyet daily, permission must be obtained from MİT and the police to conduct Internet broadcasting including delivering radio and TV broadcasts.

For particular broadcasts or programs, the regulations do not stipulate a fine but instead allow Penal Courts of Peace to prohibit Internet access to them.

While RTÜK will have the power to directly silence certain broadcasts, the presidency’s broadcast ban authority will also cover Internet platforms.

The fate of Periscope and YouTube live broadcasts, mostly conducted by deputies during parliamentary meetings, remains ambiguous, Cumhuriyet said, adding that Netflix and its Turkish equivalents BluTV and PuhuTV will need to secure permission from RTÜK, MİT and the police.

RTÜK and BTK will reportedly have a meeting on Monday to discuss the draft and then, after completion, submit it to the presidency for publication in the Official Gazette.

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