New regulation requires Internet broadcasting platforms to be under strict control of the state

According to a new regulation published in Turkey’s Official Gazette, radio and TV broadcasts on the Internet will be under the authority of the Radio and Television Supreme Council (RTÜK) and the Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK), Bianet reported on Thursday.

Digital platforms such as Netflix will be obliged to obtain a license from RTÜK to broadcast on the Internet.

Kerem Altıparmak, an associate professor of human rights and constitutional law, told Bianet that the regulation is similar to a one published in September 2018.

Saying that RTÜK is exceeding the authority given it by law, Altıparmak said: “An additional article was added to Law No. 6112 on the Establishment of Radio and Television Enterprises and their Media Services. That article determined that Internet broadcasting would be subject to licensure. This regulation now gives authority that exceeds the law to RTÜK.”

With the regulation, RTÜK will be able to define obscenity, general morality and national integrity for Internet broadcasting as it does for TV broadcasting, Altıparmak underscored.

“The first platforms that come to mind to be affected are those that broadcast continuously such as Netflix and BluTV, but there are many vague areas in the regulation. The situation of channels that do not broadcast continuously but regularly such as Deutsche Welle Turkish, BBC Turkish and other websites is very uncertain,” he said.

“While YouTube is not responsible as a platform, the situation of people who broadcast on Youtube or channels that will continuously be affected is left up in the air, which I think is intentional.”

Turkish authorities have in recent years blocked  Facebook, YouTube, WhatsApp, Twitter, Google Drive and other online tools, while the government manages an army of Twitter bots that disseminate pro-government views.

Wikipedia has been blocked in Turkey since 2017.

The ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) government, which has taken over or closed down hundreds of media outlets in the country including Turkey’s best-selling newspaper, Zaman, and has jailed around 200 journalists due to their critical views since a failed coup in 2016, is accused of silencing the free press in the country.

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