Turkey on Wednesday passed a controversial new law regulating social media to comply with any demands by the government to block or remove content.
Under the new law by Turkey, social media giants such as Facebook and Twitter have to ensure they have local representatives in Turkey and to comply with court orders over the removal of certain content or face heavy fines.
The legislation targets social networks with more than a million unique visits every day and says servers with Turkish users’ data must be stored locally.
If companies refuse to comply, they will face fines and restriction of bandwidth making the platform unusable.
The bill was submitted by the ruling AKP and its nationalist partner the MHP, which have a majority in the parliament, and passed after debates beginning on Tuesday and lasting into Wednesday.
However, after the night-long debate, the parliament went into summer recess till October.
The law requires foreign social media sites to appoint Turkish-based representatives to address authorities’ concerns over content and includes deadlines for removal of material they take exception to.
Companies could face fines, the blocking of advertisements or have bandwidth slashed by up to 90%, essentially blocking access, under the new regulations.
As a majority of Turkey’s mainstream media has come under government control over the past decade, Turks have taken to social media and smaller online news outlets for critical voices and independent news.
Turkey was second globally in Twitter-related court orders in the first six months of 2019, according to the company, and it had the highest number of other legal demands from Twitter.