What is the Disinformation Law and what does it mean? Is there a prison sentence for Fake News?

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Prison sentence for those who spread fake news! What does the Disinformation Law mean and who does it affect?

The Disinformation Law is a law that was accepted by the Turkish Grand National Assembly and became law and was approved by the Constitutional Court. The Disinformation Law provides for a prison sentence of 1 to 3 years for those who spread false news on issues concerning public health or national security. In addition, the Disinformation Law regulates issues related to legalization of online news sites and press cards. So, what does the Disinformation Law cover, how will it be implemented, who does it concern? Here are the things you need to know about the Disinformation Law…

What is the Purpose of the Disinformation Law?

The Disinformation Law is the official name of the Law on Amendments to the Press Law and Certain Laws. The Disinformation Law was announced in President Erdoğan's Republic Day speech on October 29, 2023, and was accepted by the General Assembly of the Turkish Grand National Assembly on November 8, 2023 and became law. CHP applied to the Constitutional Court to annul the law and suspend its enforcement, but the Constitutional Court rejected the request for annulment of the law by majority vote.

The purpose of the Disinformation Law is to punish people who publicly disseminate untrue information about the country's internal and external security, public order and general health in a way that is conducive to disturbing public peace, to provide legal basis for internet news sites and to determine the procedures and principles regarding press cards.

Who Will Be Punished According to the Disinformation Law?

According to the Disinformation Law, those who spread false news, online news sites and those who request press cards may face the following penalties:

  • Those who spread false news: People who publicly disseminate untrue information about the country's internal and external security, public order and general health in a way that is conducive to disturbing public peace will be sentenced to imprisonment from 1 to 3 years. If the crime is committed by hiding one's true identity or within the framework of the activities of an organization, the penalty will be increased by half.
  • Internet news sites: Internet news sites must keep the business address, commercial title, e-mail address, contact phone number and electronic notification address, as well as the name and address of the hosting provider, under the contact heading, in a way that users can directly access from the home page. In addition, internet news sites, other institutions established by law or Presidential Decree, or their affiliates can only publish announcements and advertisements published on internet news sites through the Press Advertisement Agency. Internet news sites that do not comply with these conditions will be warned by the Chief Public Prosecutor's Office, and those that do not correct their deficiencies will be appealed to the criminal court of first instance and it will be determined that they do not qualify as an online news site.
  • Those who request a press card: Those who request a press card must meet the conditions specified in the Press Card Regulation. Those who request a press card will fill out the press card application form and submit it to the Press Card Commission along with the required documents. The Press Card Commission will evaluate the applications and decide whether to grant or reject a press card. Those who are given a press card will be able to use their press cards for 3 years. Those whose press cards are rejected can appeal to the Ankara Administrative Court within 15 days from the date the decision is notified to them.