Twitter under microscope amid ‘Gezi Park probe’

Twitter under microscope amid ‘Gezi Park probe’

Oya Armutçu / Esra Kaya ISTANBUL - Hürriyet
Twitter under microscope amid ‘Gezi Park probe’

The Turkish judicial authorities' request to share content and access data was rejected by Twitter due to a gap in the law. DAILY NEWS photo / Emrah Gürel

The Transport Ministry has brought the legal basis of Twitter under the microscope, claiming that it causes information sharing and tax problems. The moves come amid detentions of Twitter users within the framework of the Gezi Park investigation, which has been criticized as “unlawful.”

“Twitter doesn’t have a legal basis in Turkey. They take ads but they do not pay tax in Turkey. It should establish a company compliant with the Turkish Commercial Code, like Facebook and YouTube,” the ministry officials told daily Hürriyet.

Protestors are being held in custody for “inciting riots and conducting propaganda” on Twitter, and these custodies have been criticized as being contrary to the law. Amid these disputes, the ministry has indicated it is likely to examine Twitter’s activities in Turkey more closely.

Twitter rejects sharing information

The Turkish judicial authorities’ previous requests of foreign service providers like Twitter, Facebook and YouTube “to share content and access information” was earlier rejected because the code on the protection of personal data does not exist in Turkish law.

However, the Ankara Chief Public Prosecutor’s Office’s sources said a “Twitter investigation” is still continuing, stating that prosecutors are collecting evidence via displays on television and police cameras, as well as pictures in newspapers.

“Turkey signed the cybercrime agreement. However, foreign servers like Twitter and Facebook don’t give content and access information requested by prosecutors. Their reason is that there is no law for the protection of personal information in Turkey,” said Hakan Kızılarslan, an academic at Ankara’s Ufuk University. Kızılarslan said Turkey had not enacted this law since 1996, adding that it was currently waiting in Parliament.

He stated that the prosecutors’ requests to access content and information sharing within the framework of the Gezi Park investigation would be rejected by Twitter because “Turkey doesn’t have legal safeguards.”

The officials from the Transport Ministry said Twitter did not have a legal basis in the country, adding that the social network has to found a company according to Turkish Commercial Code. They noted that Facebook and YouTube used to be in the same situation but had since established companies in line with the code and now had a legal basis.