Turkey: Turkey Further Tightens Control Of The Internet

Content, hosting and access providers must comply with take-down orders within 4 hours

Recent developments

With the adoption of an amendment to Law No. 5651, On Regulation of Internet Publication and Combatting Crimes Committed through Internet Publication, commonly known as the Internet Law, the Turkish government's control and supervision of the Internet has been elevated to an even higher level. The law increases the authority of the Presidency of Telecommunications under the Telecommunications Authority (the "Presidency") and imposes greater liability on hosting providers.

The amendments will enter into force following publication in the Official Gazette.

What the new article says

  • The Presidency can order content, hosting and access providers to block access or take down online content in cases of emergency within four hours of an instruction from the ministries or the Prime Minister's office. The instruction may be to prevent crime or to protect life, property, public health, national security or public order.
     
  • The Presidency must present its order to a judge of the Criminal Court of Peace within 24 hours. The judge must confirm or reject within 48 hours, failing which the Presidency's order becomes invalid.
     
  • The Presidency is only permitted to order access blocking for the infringing content or section of the website. The Presidency does have the right, however, to order access blocking for the entire website if it concludes that only blocking access to the infringing content or section would be insufficient to prevent the infringement, or only blocking access to the infringing content would not be technically possible.
     
  • The Presidency may initiate criminal proceedings against those who produce or spread infringing content. Content, hosting and access providers are required to provide information on those subject to the criminal proceedings at the judge's request. If the content, hosting or access provider fails to provide the requested information, a judicial fine of TRY 60,000 to 1,000,000 (approximately USD 23,000 to 390,000) may be imposed.
     
  • If the content, hosting or access provider fails to block access to or take down infringing content, an administrative fine of TRY 50,000 to 500,000 (approximately USD 19,000 to 190,000) may be imposed.

Although access providers' responsibilities are not significantly altered, this new provision brings new and increased liability for content and hosting providers — who are now expected to respond to orders from the Presidency within four hours.

The Presidency can now give direct orders to content and hosting providers, in cases of immediate urgency, with the law expanding the grounds of what constitutes an immediate urgency. Judges already have the right to order blocking of an entire website, if blocking only access for the infringing content would be insufficient to prevent the infringement, and now this right is extended to the Presidency in cases of emergency.

Actions to consider

Companies should be aware of how these significant changes to the Internet Law may affect their online operations in Turkey, and take steps to ensure compliance.

Baker & McKenzie

At Baker & McKenzie, we provide sophisticated advice on Internet law matters, including online content regulation, online advertising, domain names and e-commerce.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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