Turkey’s opposition seeks stay of ‘disinformation’ law

Category: Top Stories


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. mandate / ˈmæn deɪt / (v.) – to officially require or order something

    The newly-passed law mandates the registration of sim cards to the government.

  2. disinformation / dɪsˌɪn fərˈmeɪ ʃən / (n.) – the spread of false or inaccurate information meant to mislead people

    The widespread disinformation on social media about the disease caused public panic.

  3. gazette / gəˈzɛt / (n.) – a newspaper; usually used in the names of newspapers

    He writes news articles for the Phoenix Gazette.

  4. annulment / əˈnʌl mənt / (n.) – an official announcement or statement that something is legally no longer valid

    After major misunderstandings, the two companies went to court for the annulment of the contract.

  5. undermine / ˌʌn dərˈmaɪn / (v.) – to make someone or something less effective or less strong; usually in a gradual way

    The continuous importation of rice undermines the local agricultural industry.


Read the text below.

Turkey’s main opposition party applied to the country’s supreme court seeking a suspension of the enforcement of a newly-approved media law that mandates prison terms for people deemed to be spreading “disinformation.”

Parliament approved a 40-article legislation that amends press and social media laws with the stated aim of combating fake news. Critics fear that the measure will be used to further crack down on social media and independent reporting as the country heads toward elections.

The legislation, which was approved with the votes of President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling party and its nationalist allies, came into effect with its publication in the Official Gazette on October 11.

The most controversial provision, Article 29, foresees up to three years in prison for spreading information that is “contrary to the truth” about Turkey’s domestic and international security, public order and health for the alleged purpose of causing “public worry, fear and panic.”

Engin Altay, a senior member of the main opposition Republican People’s Party, applied to the Constitutional Court for the suspension of the implementation of Article 29.

“This is a law that (aims to) present (the government’s) lies as the truth, and the truth as lies, and can’t be accepted,” Altay told reporters after submitting the plea.

The party would seek the annulment of the entire legislation at a later date, he said.

Erdogan argued for a law to combat disinformation and fake news, saying false news and rising “digital fascism” are national and global security threats. His Justice and Development Party and nationalist allies say disinformation prevents people from accessing the truth, undermining freedom of expression.

The ruling party denies that the legislation aims to silence critics.

This article was provided by The Associated Press.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

  • Turkey passed a new law that would make disinformation punishable by up to three years in prison. Do you think this will be effective in eliminating or at least lessening disinformation? Why or why not? Discuss.
  • The ruling party denies that the legislation aims to silence critics. Do you think it’s possible to use the disinformation law to do this? Why or why not? Discuss.

Discussion B

  • What do you think are the pros and cons of social media reporting (ex. pro: issues not reported by mainstream media can come to light, con: the faster spread of fake news)? Discuss.
  • Is fake news on social media widespread in your country? What do you do to protect yourself against it? Discuss.