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YouTube says to appoint Turkey representative in line with new law

FILE PHOTO: Silhouettes of mobile device users are seen next to a screen projection of YouTube's logo in this picture illustration taken March 28, 2018. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic/Illustration/File Photo

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - YouTube has decided to appoint a local representative to Turkey in a move designed to comply with the country’s new social media law, the company said on Wednesday.

According to state media, Turkey fined YouTube, Facebook and Twitter some 40 million lira each in the last two months for not complying with the law, which critics says muzzles dissent from people who have turned to online platforms as Ankara has tightened its grip on mainstream media.

YouTube, which is owned by Alphabet Inc’s Google, said it respects the laws and regulations in countries where it operates, while maintaining its “commitments to freedom of expression, access to information, and transparency”.

“We have been able to find a way forward and will commence the process of appointing a local representative legal entity in compliance with the law, without compromising our values,” it said in a statement.

The law allows Turkish authorities to remove content from platforms, rather than blocking access as they have done in the past, and requires social media platforms to appoint a local representative to address authorities’ concerns.

Companies that still do not follow the law after fines will have their bandwidth slashed by 90%, essentially blocking access. If companies comply, the restrictions will be lifted and a quarter of the imposed fine will be collected, according to the regulation.

Reporting by Ceyda Caglayan, Ebru Tuncay and Can Sezer; Writing by Ezgi Erkoyun; Editing by Daren Butler

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