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Sunday, February 18, 2018, 

Turkey's broadcasting watchdog to monitor online content under draft law

Turkey

Ankara, 9 February 2018 (MIA) - Turkey will expand the powers of its radio and television watchdog to include overseeing online content providers, under a draft law submitted to parliament on Thursday which the main opposition party said amounted to digital censorship, Reuters reports.

The regulation would allow the RTUK watchdog to halt audio and video material streamed online, social media posts and films offered by Internet-based providers like Netflix if they are deemed a threat to national security or moral values.

President Tayyip Erdogan and his government have been criticized by opposition parties, rights groups and Western allies who say he has sharply curtailed freedom of speech and basic freedoms, especially in the wake of a 2016 coup attempt.

The main opposition secular Republican People Party (CHP) has criticized the proposed expansion of the watchdog’s powers.

“(This) is the prevention of broadcasting by denying licenses through RTUK. We live in the digital world,” CHP spokesman Bulent Tezcan said on Wednesday.

Turkey’s Transport, Maritime and Communication Minister Ahmet Arslan said earlier this week the regulation was not aimed at censoring “work being done within our normal moral values”, but rather at “preventing wrongs”.

“Freedoms are not limitless... If a broadcast that can harm the country’s national security, survival, and our people’s moral judgments is being done, then it is interfered with,” Arslan told reporters.

Since the 2016 coup attempt in Turkey, authorities have jailed more than 50,000 people, sacked or suspended another 150,000 and closed more than 150 media outlets over alleged links to the failed putsch.

Monitoring groups have also accused Turkey of blocking access to social media sites, particularly in the aftermath of militant attacks. The government has denied the accusation.

Last year, Turkey’s telecommunications watchdog said access to online encyclopedia Wikipedia had been blocked, citing a law allowing it to ban access to websites deemed a threat to national security. sk/13:41

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