Freedom House, a nonprofit organisation for advocacy of human rights and democracy, published its report on the 2022 edition of the Freedom on the Net report, which ranked the internet in Turkey as “not free” based on various indicators.
Internet freedom continues to decline in Turkey, as the country scored 32 out of 100 in the Freedom on the Net 2022 report, according to the Freedom House scale, countries with a score of less than 39 are considered “not free”.
Freedom House has pointed out that self-censorship, the proliferation of pro-government outlets, and blocking of independent media websites prevented the internet to be free in Turkey.
Saying that pro-government trolling networks orchestrated smear campaigns against outspoken activists, Freedom House criticised the latest so called “disinformation bill” which is also termed as the “censorship law” by opposition parties in Turkey.
The recent ‘disinformation’ law was adopted, on 13 October, by the Grand National Assembly of Turkey (TBMM) and the adoption of which was protested against by many of the main opposition parties, 22 international organisations and journalists.
The law states that individuals deemed to have published information on Turkey’s security, public order and general health “in order to create anxiety, fear or panic among the public” will face a 1–3-year prison sentence.
“The disinformation bill is expected to assist the governing alliance in silencing opposition parties and critical media coverage ahead of the June 2023 presidential and parliamentary elections; as of the end of the coverage period, all potential opposition candidates are polling higher than President Erdoğan,” said the Freedom House report.
The report stated that thousands of people, including political figures, faced criminal charges for their social media activities.
“At least one social media user faces a life sentence for a social media post, while a journalist who covers Kurdish issues was sentenced to life in prison, in part due to a Facebook post.” The Freedom House added.
The president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had previously said that “they are against Youtube, Twitter and Netflix” in 2020.
Iran which adopted strict internet measurements on the Internet after the Jîna Mahsa Amini protests was also ranked as a “not free” country with only 16 points.
Contrary to Azerbaijan, which took 36 points, countries such as Armenia and Georgia were labelled as “free” countries respectively taking 74 and 78 scores.
The map showing the situation of countries and the score chart are available on the website of Freedom House.
Freedom House uses a standard methodology to determine each country’s internet freedom score on a 100-point scale, with 21 separate indicators about obstacles to access, limits on content, and violations of user rights.