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Articles regulating foreign social media in Turkey withdrawn from bill by AKP: report

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A bill proposing measures to fight the coronavirus dropped calls for foreign social media companies to appoint representatives in Turkey when it was introduced it parliament on Tuesday, an opposition deputy said, adding they were likely to resurface later, Reuters reported.

The proposed measures had raised concerns over the tightening of regulations on online content from social media users and experts.

The articles were likely removed from the bill, drafted by President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP), to streamline the approval of the rest of the legislation, said Garo Paylan, a member of the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP).

Ankara strictly polices social media content, especially during periods such as military operations and the current coronavirus pandemic.

Fifteen articles were presented to parliament on Tuesday, said AKP deputy Mehmet Muş. The bill seen by Reuters last week comprised 62 articles.

The articles regarding social media stated that the representatives in the country would address concerns raised by authorities over content. The companies would be penalized if they did not appoint a representative or if they failed to respond to communication from authorities regarding content.

“These [measures] being withdrawn does not mean they are withdrawn forever. He [Erdoğan] wants to impose strict measures on social media,” Paylan said.

“If there is not enough reaction from the public, these articles will come before us again.”

As of Tuesday morning, Turkey had more than 61,000 coronavirus infections, the ninth highest in the world, and 1,296 deaths.

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