Turkish lawmakers have voted to adopt a law that aimed at preventing “disinformation” in the media and online, despite widespread concerns about the measure’s potential to quash free speech.
Lawmakers from President Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) and the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP), which together have a majority, voted in parliament on Thursday to approve the legislation. The bill now goes to Erdogan for final approval.
While government officials have said the highly controversial bill is needed to combat fake news and disinformation, opposition members of parliament as well as European countries and media rights activists have called to scrap it.
Many have taken issue with article 29 in the measure, saying that it may be used to enforce censorship and quash free speech, as well as threaten independent journalism, since the Turkish government currently controls a majority of major news outlets in the country.
Article 29 says that people who are found guilty of spreading false information online intended to “create fear and disturb public order” could be punished with a prison sentence of one to three years. The measure also stipulates that if anonymous accounts are used to spread the alleged disinformation, sentences can be increased by up to half.
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