Turkey: Twitter agrees to close some accounts, no tax deal

Turkey and Twitter have recently been on unfriendly terms due to the popular microblogging site's failure to implement Turkish court decisions that ordered the removal of certain web links on the grounds of privacy violations.

Turkey: Twitter agrees to close some accounts, no tax deal

World Bulletin / News Desk

"Progress has been made" in the highly-anticipated meeting in Ankara between senior executives from Twitter and officers from Turkey's information technologies authority, according to information received by Anadolu Agency from the Prime Minister's Office.

Twitter will close some accounts in Turkey but will not for now set up an office there as the government wants, a senior Turkish official said late on Monday after talks over a dispute which saw the government ban the site for two weeks.

Some accounts about which Turkey has complained will be closed and a more formal mechanism established under which Twitter will consider Turkish court rulings on other accounts, the official at the prime minister's office said.

But there was no immediate deal to open a Twitter office in Turkey or for it to pay Turkish tax, two of Ankara's key requests, in the first direct talks since the ban.

"The two sides understood each other fully after the presentations, and a decision was made to establish a system for cooperation in the future," the official said.

"Some accounts will be closed. At this stage Twitter will not immediately establish a company but the necessary communication will be established via lawyers in Istanbul."

A team of senior officials from Twitter's management, led by the company's head of global public policy, Colin Crowell, had a meeting on Monday in Ankara with representatives from Turkey's Information and Communications Technologies Authority (BTK).

Regarding the implementation of Turkey's court decisions, Twitter officials said they would act in a faster and more sensitive way in the future, the PM's office said. "As a sign of goodwill, they implemented five court decisions ahead of the visit."

Turkey and Twitter have recently been on unfriendly terms due to the popular microblogging site's failure to implement Turkish court decisions that ordered the removal of certain web links on the grounds of privacy violations.

Twitter's unwillingness to act in accordance with the rule of law in Turkey led the country's telecoms regulator TIB to block access to the site last month.

As to opening an office in Turkey, the PM's office cited Twitter officials as saying that they were "not categorically against it,” but added that they had not reached to a final decision yet.

The Turkish official said Twitter had implemented three important court rulings and said it would enact several other decisions within a week, while it considered the other issues.

"Twitter is not categorically against opening an office in Turkey and expressed this clearly. It will now conduct work and it will be determined whether Twitter will pay tax by the time it forms a company. Twitter said that if it needs to pay tax it will fulfil this responsibility," he said.

Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek told a news conference on Tuesday that all social media companies operating in Turkey must open representative offices in the country.

The government estimates Twitter generates $35 million a year in advertising revenue in Turkey, none of it taxed locally.

Access to the site in Turkey was restored on April 3 after the Constitutional Court ruled that it was a violation of freedom of expression.

Twitter does not have an office in Turkey despite Turkish authorities' requests for it to open a local branch.

Last Mod: 15 Nisan 2014, 15:59
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