Turkey’s far-right Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) has submitted a parliamentary bill aiming to bring increased measures against what it called manipulation on digital news platforms.
According to a report by the Ahval news website, citing the Cumhuriyet daily, the MHP’s bill seeks tight control and censorship of Internet news sites while calling for their closure by the country’s Telecommunications Authority (BTK) if they fail to fulfill the required obligations within six months.
The move came after news reports saying a 92-year-old woman was sexually assaulted and murdered in her home by a man who had an MHP tattoo on his hand.
“We see that a significant part of the Internet news sites release [news] to create perceptions and to support terrorist organizations,” MHP lawmaker Halil Öztürk said about the bill.
The Turkish government has increased restrictions on news sites in recent years.
According to a report drafted by the Freedom of Expression Association (İFÖD), Turkey had banned access to at least 450,000 websites, 140,000 URLs and 42,000 tweets as of October 2020.
The BTK was the institution behind most access bans with 237,086 orders between 2006 and 2019, and the Turkish Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) had imposed 129,124 orders until it was closed in 2016. A total of 32,741 sites were shut down upon court orders.
Turkey ranked third in the world in the use of VPN technology, which allows access to banned websites and the ability to cover one’s tracks online, surpassing countries with notorious online censorship such as China and Saudi Arabia, a research on real-life Internet users conducted by thebestvpn, a platform set up by VPN providers, has stressed.
In Turkey, 32 percent of Internet users connect to VPN, above even China’s 31 percent, the research said.