New Law in Turkey Gives Added Social Media Power To Govt

New Law in Turkey Gives Added Social Media Power To Govt

A law was been passed by the Turkey government recently that lets the government store user data found in their social media accounts. What’s the motive behind this move? What do the critics have to say?

Crux of the Matter

What Happened?
The Turkish lawmakers passed legislation on 29th July that gives them the authority to regulate social media content. This has raised concerns about the country falling under greater governmental control, as social media was one of the few places for free public debate in Turkey. Starting from Oct. 1, it requires social media companies to store user data in the nation’s internal servers itself.

What Does The Bill State?
It orders popular social giants like Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, to open offices in Turkey and impose strict rules.

These offices would be responsible for meeting the demands of both the individuals and government. They can block content hosted on their platforms that is deemed inappropriate.

What If They Don’t Obey?
The dire consequences of disobeying the law would be slowing the bandwidth of the sites and making them mostly inaccessible. Moreover, the company offices would have 48 hours to comply and the fine for being late would be $700,000+.

Experts’ Take On Why It Was Passed
President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and governing A.K.P. party behind the legislation cited that this move was needed to “protect citizens from cybercrime.”

Critics say that things took a personal turn when the president’s family was being targeted in social media criticism. Many reporters have been jailed to date, and many have left the country in fear.

As it is offline, conventional media houses are under the scanner of the Turkish government, with 90% of them being controlled by businesses close to the government. Now, this law would be the start of an online censorship regime.

History Of Its “Online Mess”

  • In 2016 before an attempted coup, Turkey had seen an online battle of the government loyals and the general public.
  • In 2017 Wikipedia was banned there, till it was lifted this year.
  • In 2019, streaming services like Netflix were targeted, with entertainment programs being rigorously censored. The series “If Only” was even cancelled as a result, because it was based on a gay character.

  • A Black and White photo challenge is a recent social media trend which has started from Turkey, where the campaign is associated with raising awareness about femicide in the country. It is so because, b&w photos of murdered women are shown in the country’s media.
  • The Justice and Development Party, abbreviated officially AK Parti in Turkish, is a conservative political party in Turkey. The current party leader is Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, the incumbent President of Turkey.
  • Yeşilçam is the sobriquet that refers to Turkish film art and industry. The first Turkish-made film was a documentary entitled Ayastefanos’taki Rus Abidesinin Yıkılışı (Demolition of the Russian Monument at San Stefano), directed by Fuat Uzkınay and completed in 1914.

Putin's Idlib Game, 2 Losers and A Winner

Amidst the fierce battle between Turkish and Syrian government forces in Syria’s Idlib province, the Turkish and Russian presidents; Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Vladimir Putin met on March 5 in Moscow to discuss a ceasefire deal.

Crux of the Matter

The tussle between Turkey and allied Syrian rebels and Russian-backed Syrian government forces could not be brought to end even after all possible diplomacy efforts.

According to the Syrian civil defense group, Russian airstrikes in Idlib have claimed 16 civilian lives and the Turkish Defence Ministry reported that 184 Syrian government force members were killed in the last 24 hours. Turkey said it has destroyed 3 Syrian planes and has destroyed hundreds of vehicles and equipment killing more than 3,000 soldiers since the operation was launched on February 27. United Nations has called this the worst humanitarian crisis as one million people have fled fighting in Idlib after the Syrian government launched a military assault.

In the past week, Russia-backed Syrian army launched an air attack that killed 33 opponent soldiers; Turkey retaliated with a military operation. The meeting of 2 leaders in Moscow is more crucial as it is a ground for recovering a deteriorating relationship between two economic partners. Before the meet, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said that he expects to achieve a ceasefire after the talks with Vladimir Putin. Russia will try and maintain its balance between sparing Turkey and supporting Syria in the meet.

Putin had first turned down the meeting with Erdogan in January 2020. In February, Turkey had announced a four-way meeting on March 5 with France’s Emmanuel Macron, Germany’s Angela Merkel and Vladimir Putin but after 5 days of the announcement, Moscow stated that Putin had ‘other plans’ for March 5. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov has hoped that some new agreements will be found in the Sochi framework after this meeting.

The 2018 Sochi Agreement
A ‘de-escalation zone’ with 12 observation towers around Idlib was created which did not prove to be much effective and it did not make any progress over the years. The Russian military accused Turkey of violating international law by sending troops into Idlib to make up a mechanized division. Turkey accused Russia of breaching the ceasefire agreed in 2018 numerous times.

If a solution is not reached at this point the Syrian crisis would get complicated and also harm the economic projects which Russia has invested in Turkey and undertaken projects which include defense system deals and building the Akkuyu Nuclear Plant. Russia may leverage these to pressurize Turkey to negotiate.

Putin just before the meeting, expressed his regret to President Erdogan for loss of 34 Turkish troops in an airstrike, saying the Syrian army had not known of their location. Ahead of the Moscow talks, Idlib residents have reported heavy shelling by Turkish troops and airstrikes by Russian and Syrian forces.

Though Russia has denied targeting civilians, Turkey’s Anadolu news agency reported that the strikes hit civilians.

Syria and its Refugee Crisis
Turkey hosts nearly 3.6 million Syrian refugees and says it cannot absorb more. To extract more funding from Europe, Turkey says it would not abide by the 2016 deal in which it stopped migrants crossing into the European Union in return for billions of euros in aid.

The Turkish President in a warning to Europe said, “Europe must support Turkey’s political and humanitarian solutions in Syria if it wants to avoid a repeat of the 2015 migration crisis.” Thousands of migrants have gathered at the Turkish-Greek border since President Erdogan asked them to try to enter Europe which has lead to clashes with Greek police.

James Jeffrey, the U.S. special representative said, “while the United States supports Turkey, it still has very serious concerns over Ankara’s purchase of Russian S-400 missile defenses last year.”

International Affairs Expert Fyodor Lukyanov said, “Both sides are not linked by mutual interests or trust, but by the impossibility to achieve their goals without the other party’s cooperation.”


Recep Tayyip Erdoğan is the 12th and current president of the Republic of Turkey. He previously served as Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014 and as Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998. In 1976, Erdoğan engaged in politics by joining the National Turkish Student Union, an anti-communist action group. In the same year, he became the head of the Beyoğlu youth branch of the Islamist National Salvation Party and was later promoted to chair of the Istanbul youth branch of the party. In 1983, Erdoğan followed most of Necmettin Erbakan’s followers into the Islamist Welfare Party. He became the party’s Beyoğlu district chair in 1984, and in 1985 he became the chair of the Istanbul city branch. More Info

The Idlib Demilitarization was an agreement between Turkey and Russia to create a demilitarized zone (DMZ) in Syria’s rebel-held Idlib Governorate, to be patrolled by military forces from Russia and Turkey. On 17 September 2018, the Russian president Vladimir Putin and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan reached an agreement to create a buffer zone in Idlib. After the deal, on 19 September, the Syrian military attacked positions held by HTS and its allies, in the Hama-Latakia-Idlib axis, stating that it has still not withdrawn its troops from the area. The deal’s terms were never implemented fully. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) never left the demilitarized zone and, to the contrary, launched a full-scale offensive against the other rebel groups remaining within the rebel-held Idlib Governorate. More Info

US Formally Recognizes Armenian Genocide

The US House of Representatives voted 405-11 to recognize the Armenian genocide during World War I by the erstwhile Ottoman Empire. As per conservative estimates, more than 1.5 million Armenians were massacred by Ottoman forces.

Crux of the Matter
  • This resolution comes on the heels of the recent invasion of Syria by Turkey where Turkish forces assaulted Kurdish forces. Ground reports mentioned massive human rights violations by the Turkish army on Kurdish common folk.
  • The Turkish assault on the Kurds was facilitated by President Trump’s move to pull out American troops after a call with Turkish president Erdogan. The House also voted overwhelmingly to impose economic sanctions on Turkey for their military misadventure.
  • Turkey has long denied the genocide and the country’s foreign minister condemned the resolution as “an attempt to rewrite history”.
  • House speaker Nancy Pelosi (Democrat) said, “If we ignore history, then we are destined to witness the mistakes of the past be repeated. Recent attacks by the Turkish military against the Kurdish people are a stark reminder of the danger in our own time.”
  • Notably, Democrat representative Ilhan Omar, who had recently publicly condemned India on the Kashmir issue and refused to acknowledge Pakistan’s hand in promoting cross border terrorism in the valley, refrained from supporting the resolution.

The Armenian Genocide was the mass systematic extermination and expulsion of 1.5 million ethnic Armenians within the Ottoman Empire (most of whom were citizens) by the Ottoman government from approximately 1914 to 1923. The starting date is conventionally held to be 24 April 1915, the day that Ottoman authorities rounded up, arrested, and deported from Constantinople (now Istanbul) to the region of Angora (Ankara), 235 to 270 Armenian intellectuals and community leaders, the majority of whom were eventually murdered. The genocide was carried out during and after World War I and implemented in two phases—the wholesale killing of the able-bodied male population through massacre and subjection of army conscripts to forced labour, followed by the deportation of women, children, the elderly, and the infirm on death marches leading to the Syrian Desert. Driven forward by military escorts, the deportees were deprived of food and water and subjected to periodic robbery, rape, and massacre. Other ethnic groups were similarly targeted for extermination in the Assyrian genocide and the Greek genocide, and their treatment is considered by some historians to be part of the same genocidal policy. More Info