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Constitutional Court Rules Blocking Access to Content on Social Media Violates Freedoms of Speech and the Press

Legal Alerts
IT & Communications
General

Recent Development

In its decision dated April 17, 2019 with number 2015/4821 (“Decision“), the Constitutional Court ruled that the Criminal Judicature of Peace’s decision to block access to content on social media violates freedom of speech and freedom of the press.  The decision was published on the Official Gazette on May 15, 2019.

Background

The applicant argued that blocking access to the news content regarding a judge and his duty, which was originally posted on another platform and he quoted in his social media account, on grounds that the content damages the reputation and honor of that judge violated the freedom of speech and freedom of the press guaranteed by the Constitution of Turkey. The applicant also added that he uses his account for journalism purposes.

What Does the Decision Say?

The Constitutional Court’s Decision referred to one of its prior decisions to reiterate that the decision to block access to content is an exceptional remedy provided under the Law No. 5651 and can only be applied in certain situations where the content explicitly and immediately violates someone’s personal right (e.g. sharing inappropriate photos and video images of a person). If the content does not explicitly and immediately violate someone’s personal right, persons must resort to civil and criminal remedies in order to protect their personal rights.

The Constitutional Court decided that the case at hand did not meet the criteria necessary to merit blocking access to the content. As such, the Criminal Judicature of Peace’s decision violated the freedoms of speech and of the press.

Conclusion

As provided in the Constitutional Court’s Decision, in order to protect the balance between personal rights and the freedoms of speech and the press, when deciding on blocking access to particular content, courts must carefully observe and determine that the content is unlawful, the personal right is explicitly violated and the indemnification of damages is necessary.