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Turkey talks tax with Twitter

Monday, April 14, 2014 - 00:55

Apr 14 - Turkey has urged executives from Twitter to open an office and start paying Turkish tax in the first direct talks since a two-week ban was imposed on the site as the government battled a corruption scandal. Sonia Legg reports

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First it was banned, then it was accused of evading taxes - Twitter isn't popular with the Turkish government. The country's telecoms regulator has been meeting Twitter officials in Ankara to try and open up communication. SOUNDBITE) (Turkish) HEAD OF TURKISH TELECOMS REGULATOR TAYFUN ACARER, SAYING: "We want the court orders to be implemented. We want them to fulfil the demands of our citizens that are a matter of negotiation." The row erupted when audio recordings appeared on Twitter and YouTube. They allegedly exposed corruption within government. Both sites were banned, although the Twitter block was overturned 10 days ago by the courts. But it seems that wasn't the end of it. Last week the head of parliament's Constitutional Commission began a legal challenge designed to get the Twitter ban reinstated. And the Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan now says Twitter's paid no tax on the $35 million it generates each year from advertising revenues in Turkey. ////// Turkey has urged executives from Twitter to open an office and start paying Turkish tax in the first direct talks since a two-week ban was imposed on the site as the government battled a corruption scandal. Sonia Legg reports Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government blocked Twitter and YouTube in March, drawing international condemnation, after audio recordings, purportedly showing corruption in his inner circle, were leaked on their sites. The block was lifted 10 days ago after the constitutional court ruled that it breached freedom of expression, a decision Erdogan has since said was wrong and should be overturned. YouTube remains largely blocked in Turkey. The prime minister on Saturday accused Twitter of being a "tax evader", repeating his combative stance ahead of the talks between his government and the San Francisco-based company. A senior Turkish official told Reuters that Twitter's head of global public policy, Colin Crowell, was holding two rounds of talks in Ankara with the aim of opening up a better channel of communication. He described the first meeting as "positive". The government estimates that Twitter generates $35 million a year in advertising revenue in Turkey, none of it taxed by Ankara, he said. There was no immediate comment from Twitter. Access to the service was blocked on March 21 in the run-up to local elections to stem a stream of leaked wiretapped recordings. Erdogan said he would "root out" the network. Tech-savvy Turks quickly found workarounds, and the company itself published a tweet to Turkish users instructing them on how to continue tweeting via SMS text message. Turkey has also said it wants the removal of tweets which it considers harm national security, the privacy of individuals and personal rights, and wants Twitter to hand over the IP addresses of those accounts which it views as a threat. Last week the head of parliament's constitutional commission, Burhan Kuzu of Erdogan's ruling AK Party, applied to the constitutional court seeking a renewed block on access to Twitter on the grounds of a personal insult against him.

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Turkey talks tax with Twitter

Monday, April 14, 2014 - 00:55