The deputy chair of the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), Mahir Ünal, has said that the government will continue its talks with Twitter for the social media platform to keep a representative in Turkey, in line with the country’s new social media regulation law.
Ünal’s comments came following the AKP’s earlier announcement that Twitter is the only social media platform which did not respond to Turkey’s demand of appointing a representative.
Ünal on July 30 appeared at a live program broadcast on NTV channel and answered questions with regards to the recently approved law that gives the government greater powers to regulate social media despite concerns of growing censorship in the country.
Asked if Twitter would be shut down in Turkey provided that it refuses to maintain a representative in the country, Ünal said: “You have to give a decision at this point. If those who give an account [of their actions] at the U.S. Congress refuse to answer to us, and if they do not recognize your legal regulations, you cannot simply say ‘This structure [social media platform] does not want to recognize your legal regulations and cyber sovereign right, so leave them alone.’”
Ünal said that the Turkish government will continue its negotiations with these social media companies “to the end” and they have 30 days starting on Oct. 1 to appoint their local representatives. “I believe that both sides will solve the issue with a win-win approach,” he said.
Turkey’s new social media regulation law will allow authorities to remove content from platforms all together rather than blocking access as they have done in the past.
Companies that do not comply could have their bandwidth slashed by up to 90 percent, essentially blocking access, and face other penalties.
They must also store local users’ information in Turkey, raising concerns that a state that critics say has grown more authoritarian under President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan will gain easy access.
An estimated 90 percent of major media in Turkey comes under the ownership of the state or is close to the government.