Istanbul, January 11, 2024—The Committee to Protect Journalists welcomes the decision by Turkey’s Constitutional Court to annul a legal clause that allowed local courts to remove online news.
“We are pleased that Turkey’s highest court found unconstitutional the legal article that had been used to take down online news with public value under the guise of protecting individuals’ rights,” Özgür Öğret, CPJ’s Turkey representative, said on Thursday. “The road to legally protect the press and the free flow of information in Turkey remains long and challenging, but we applaud the court’s step in the right direction.”
The legal changes introduced in 2020, which CPJ raised concerns about at the time, amended Turkey’s 2007 internet law to allow individuals to ask local courts to remove online content that violated their “personal rights” or privacy.
The Constitutional Court said in its ruling on Wednesday that this clause interfered with freedom of expression and the press, according to news reports. The new ruling will take effect in nine months.
The law forced media outlets to remove hundreds of pieces of critical content, according to the Freedom of Expression Association, a Turkish nonprofit. Its 2021 report found that 432 out of 548 news articles that were blocked by the law covered topics that was in the public interest.
The court also cancelled another clause in the law which gave the regulatory Information Technologies and Communication Authority (BTK) the power to take down content without a court order.