A Turkish opposition lawmaker broke a smartphone with a hammer during his speech in the parliament on Wednesday to protest a proposed disinformation and social media bill.
Burak Erbay, a member of the main opposition People’s Republican Party, had taken out a hammer from a bag and started smashing the cell phone as he addressed the parliament during the debate for the proposed bill.
“If the (disinformation) law passes the parliament, you can break your phones and throw them away like this — my young brothers and sisters. You do not need to use them anymore,” said Erbay as he hurled the broken cell phone.
Turkey’s proposed “disinformation” bill threatens free speech and could further harm journalism ahead of next year’s elections, a European rights watchdog’s legal body said, calling for Turkey’s parliament to reject it.
The Venice Commission, which advises the Council of Europe, said prison sentences and other fallout from the draft legislation would be disproportionate to its aims and could lead to “arbitrary restrictions of freedom of expression.”
President Tayyip Erdogan’s government says the legislation would address misinformation in the press and on social media. His ruling AK Party and allies have a majority in parliament and are expected to adopt it as soon as this week.
Critics, including opposition parties and press groups, are primarily concerned over an article saying those who spread false information about Turkey’s security to create fear and disturb public order would face one to three years in prison.
The bill would continue a decades-long crackdown on free speech and the media under Erdogan, who faces tight presidential and parliamentary elections next year.
A Reuters investigation recently showed how the mainstream media has become a tight chain of command of government-approved headlines.