04/14/2020 Turkey (International Christian Concern) – Turkey’s draft law on economic measures to address COVID-19 included eight articles which would’ve tightened the government’s censorship over social media. The draft law required (among other items) that any platform with over 1 million daily users must appoint a legal representative in Turkey, thereby allowing the courts to serve orders relating to content removal or blocked access. These relevant articles were eventually withdrawn, but opposition party members warn that they will be reintroduced at a future point.
While the 1 million daily user requirement may seem high, it is important to remember that Turkey has severely restricted the free speech of its citizens, often under the guise of addressing a national crisis. These ever tightening restrictions make it challenging for free expression and freedom of conscience.
Because of COVID-19, many Christian groups are relying upon online platforms more than over. While this kind of policy—had it been implemented—may not have immediately impacted several churches, it could have created several problems down the road. Turkey’s Christian community is small because of years of genocide and persecution, but they desire to grow. They also desire to stay in touch with each other despite their small numbers and distance from each other. For these reasons, it is important to carefully monitor any of the government’s attempts to restrict freedom of expression and content blocking.
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