AKP chair & President Erdoğan has called for a new regulation to be brought to the parliament concerning social media as soon as possible. Government ally MHP chair Devlet Bahçeli has suspended his account until this arrangement was made. However the governing AKP is far from having a monolithic support for the Data Localization Bill within the party.
There has been a division within the ruling AKP, after AKP chair & President Erdoğan’s call to initiate legal regulations concerning social media. Some party members assert that a small-scale regulation which can be passed with everyone’s consensus should be voted until the parliament goes into summer recess next week. According to the governing party members this regulation should include an obligation for social media platforms to appoint a representative in Turkey and establish local offices. On the other hand, some party members claim that a comprehensive law should be passed in autumn by taking into account the developments in international law. There are also party members who suggest that whatever it takes should be done immediately in accordance with President Erdoğan’s demands for a regulation on social media. A decision is expected this week by the governing party concerning whether or not the draft bill is coming to the parliament.
PARLIAMENT HAS A FULL AGENDA
According to Nergis Demirkaya’s report from Duvar, a many draft bills are waiting to be discussed in parliament’s agenda. A Second Law Reform Package of Law of Civil Proceedings, which is aimed to accelerated to judicial institution has not been completed yet. The Law Proposal on Making Some Arrangements in the Field of Food, Agriculture and Forestry which includes that demolition of structures in the hobby garden where is established in agricultural areas, fining up to 320.000 TL for the tradesmen who sell alcohol outside of specific hours are ready to be discussed. A proposal also includes a provision to increase fines about imitation and adulteration of products. A commission research has been finished and has been ready to be discussed about, in the past a proposal that has been turned down twice by Constitutional Court, which is concernign doing archive research and security investigation when being hired in the the civil service sector.
The law proposal is waiting for its order in the General Assembly. A law proposal which includes some regulations about military field is also ready to be discussed in the General Assembly. This regulation focuses on especially Turkish Military Force Discipline Law. A proposal of multiple-bar model law has been added to preparation of legal regulation lately.
There is uncertainty about how to enact these proposals in the parliament where multiple Covid-19 cases have been seen during the pandemic period.
“WHATEVER IT TAKES… SOCIAL MEDIA MUST BE REGULATED”
Meanwhile President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said “we should do whatever it takes to find a financial and judicial interlocutor” about social media and he instructed the party group to finding a solution to solve this issue before the legislative term goes into recess.
There has not been made a decision yet about the social media regulation and its timing on the parliamentary agenda. In addition to that a summer recess plan is made before the end of July, after discussing some of its proposals in the parliament. AKP is divided in terms of timing; both President Erdoğan’s asking and MHP chair Devlet Bahçeli’s statement about not using social media until doing some media regulations was made.
DIVISION WITHIN AKP
Some party members of AKP defend a more comprehensive proposal which is considering international legislation should be proposed in autumn because they claim that a comprehensive working about regulation has not been completed yet. At the same time, some party members assert that a small-scale and ‘no one say no’ regulation which can be reached with a consensus with opposition’s support can be enacted as fast as possible. This regulation includes an obligation to non-local social media platforms to hiring representative in Turkey and collecting and keeping Turkish user’s data in Turkey through ‘Data Localization Bill’.
SEEKING OPPOSITION’S SUPPORT FOR DATA LOCALIZATION
The members who defend smaller-scale regulations say that if regulation about violation of personal rights and privacy were explained to the opposition properly, it would get the support of opposition. However opposition parties are concerned about the impact of such an initiative and regulation, stating they would not support it. AKP officials refer to other countries’ legislations and bring up especially the German example saying, “this obligation is imposed in many countries.”
AKP representatives ask for all social media platforms and tech-businesses that have investments and reach over a certain level in Turkey, “they also must have a representative in Turkey. In this manner we can reach a consensus about some articles which no one can say no. An irrefutable package can be enacted in one day.” Analysts state that the government is after the heavy investment such localization of national data would bring and tax revenues to be raised through local social media platform offices at a time when Turkey’s economy does not look so promising.
MORALITY ARGUEMENT BROUGHT UP BY AKP
Some AKP officials that seek opposition’s support for the bill say, “We do not talk about a regulation which seems like repressive to the world. We are doing regulation about an issue which is discussed worldwide as well. This issue is all about the opposition who will say ‘okay’ to family, personal rights and freedoms and morality. If we reached a compromise it would passed before the parliament close.”
Another perspective within AKP claims that a comprehensive proposal should be passed without compromise according to instructions of President Erdoğan. After a decade-long struggle to make social media and tech businesses pay taxes in Turkey, AKP is determined about social media regulation but a discussion is continuing about its timing. After the final assessment, it is expected that a position according to decision that has been made.