* Turkey asked Twitter to reveal user identities -official
* Move comes after weeks of anti-government protests
* Turkey shut down YouTube for over two years in 2008
By Ozge Ozbilgin and Jonathon Burch
ANKARA, June 26 Turkey said on Wednesday it had
asked Twitter to set up a representative office inside the
country, which could give it a tighter rein over the
microblogging site it has accused of helping stir weeks of
While mainstream Turkish media largely ignored the protests
during the early days of the unrest, social networking sites
such as Twitter and Facebook emerged as the main outlets
for Turks opposed to the government.
Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has described sites like
Twitter as a "scourge" - although senior members of his party
are regular users - saying they were used to spread lies about
the government with the aim of terrorising society.
Police detained several dozen people suspected of inciting
unrest on social media during the protests, local reports said.
"We have told all social media that ... if you operate in
Turkey you must comply with Turkish law," Transport and
Communications Minister Binali Yildirim told reporters.
"When information is requested, we want to see someone in
Turkey who can provide this ... there needs to be an
interlocutor we can put our grievance to and who can correct an
error if there is one," he said.
While Ankara had no problems with Facebook, which had been
working with Turkish authorities for a while and had
representatives inside Turkey, Yildirim said it had not seen a
"positive approach" from Twitter after Turkey had issued the
"necessary warnings" to the site over the matter.
"Twitter will probably comply too. Otherwise this is a
situation that cannot be sustained," he said, without
elaborating, but stressed the aim was not to limit social media.
An official at the ministry, who asked not to be named, said
the government had asked Twitter to reveal the identities of
users who posted messages deemed insulting to the government or
prime minister, or which flouted people's personal rights.
It was not immediately clear whether Twitter had responded.
In a statement, Facebook said it had not provided user data
to Turkish authorities in response to government requests over
the protests and said it was concerned about proposals internet
firms may have to provide data more frequently.
Turkey's interior minister had previously announced the
government was working on new regulations that would target
so-called "provocateurs" on social media but there have been few
details on what the new laws would entail.
One source with knowledge of the matter said the justice
ministry had proposed a regulation whereby any Turk wishing to
open a Twitter account would have to enter their national
identification number, but that this had been rejected by the
transport ministry as being technically unfeasible.
Twitter last year introduced a new feature called "Country
Withheld Content", that allows the service to narrowly censor
tweets considered illegal in one specific country, causing some
concern among users.
The website implemented the feature for the first time in
October in response to a request by German authorities, blocking
messages in Germany by a right-wing group banned by police.
Turkey last year said it had won a long-running battle to
persuade YouTube to operate under a Turkish web domain, giving
Ankara more control over the video-sharing website and requiring
the firm to pay Turkish taxes.
Turkey banned the popular website for more than two years in
2008 after users posted videos Turkey deemed insulting to the
republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Rights groups have long pressed Turkey to reform strict
Internet laws and analysts have criticised the ease with which
citizens and politicians can apply to have a site banned.
Turkey cites offences including child pornography and
insulting Ataturk to justify blocking websites.
But Turkish users have increasingly turned to encryption
software to thwart any ramp up in censorship of the