Turkey will require foreign social media companies with high Internet traffic to appoint a representative in the country to address concerns raised by authorities over content on their platforms, as indicated in draft legislation seen by Reuters on Thursday.
Companies that do not comply with the new measure could face having their bandwidth halved after 30 days by court order, and then slashed by 95 percent if they hold out another 30 days, it said.
The law will apply to social media networks accessed by more than 1 million people daily from Turkey, the bill said.
Ankara strictly polices social media content, especially during periods such as military operations and the current coronavirus pandemic.
In the three weeks to April 6, more than 3,500 social media accounts were reviewed, 616 suspects were identified and 229 were detained for “provocative” social media posts, according to the Interior Ministry.
The new measures, which were included in a bill mainly focused on economic measures to combat the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, sparked new worries among some social media users and analysts over the government tightening its grip on online content. The draft law is due to be sent to parliament next week.
Companies will need to respond to communications from the authorities about content within 72 hours and compile and notify officials of all removed or blocked content in three-month periods, the proposed legislation said. The companies will also need to store data belonging to Turkish users within the country.
If companies fail to respond to requests within 72 hours, they will be fined up to 1 million lira ($148,000), while those who do not compile the removed or blocked content or do not store data in Turkey will be fined up to 5 million lira.
Turkey had the second highest number of court orders of any country regarding Twitter in the first six months of 2019, according to data from the company, as well as the highest number of other legal demands during the same period.