Economy

YouTube to set up legal representative in Turkey

Legal entity in Turkey to serve as local representative in line with social media law which went into effect on Oct. 1

Tuba Sahin and Yunus Girgin   | 16.12.2020
YouTube to set up legal representative in Turkey

ANKARA

In line with a new law, YouTube on Wednesday announced it will set up a legal entity in Turkey to serve as a local representative, providing a local point of contact for the government. 

This step toward compliance with Turkey’s recent social media law will not change how it reviews content removal requests, nor will it change how it handles or holds user data, the popular video website said in a statement. 

The move, which it said will not compromise its values, came after analyzing Turkey’s recently amended internet law, said the statement by YouTube, which is owned by web giant Google.  

Turkey's new social media law came into effect on Oct. 1, obliging social media platforms accessed over 1 million times per day in the country to hire local representatives.

"YouTube respects the laws and regulations in the countries where we operate, while maintaining our commitments to freedom of expression, access to information, and transparency," said the statement. 

The company stressed its commitment to its Turkish users, creators and business partner, saying it will continue to preserve the platform’s vibrance and openness. 

Turkish Industry and Technology Minister Mustafa Varank welcomed YouTube's decision on to set up a legal entity in Turkey.

"We made a legal arrangement so they [global technology firms in Turkey] abide by the laws as they do in Russia, India and elsewhere," Varank said in a speech during ongoing parliamentary budget talks, referring to the country's social media law.

"We are seeing the fruits of this [law]. Compliance by global companies with local laws and their attention to tax issues are on the agenda of the entire world."

Rules and compliance

This November and December, Turkey has fined social media firms 10 million Turkish liras ($1.2 million) and 30 million Turkish liras ($3.8 million), respectively, for their failure to hire local representatives under the law.

While social media platforms such as Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Periscope, Linkedln, Dailymotion and TikTok have been fined, Russian site VK has appointed a representative and escaped the penalty.

Under the law, if companies still do not comply with the requirement by 90 days, Turkish advertisers will be banned from their sites.

Three months after the advertising ban, authorities will be able to reduce the platforms’ internet bandwidth initially 50% and then 90% after another month of non-compliance.

If the social media giants appoint local representatives, 75% of the fine will be waived and the bandwidth restored.

Under the law, social media firms are obliged to answer requests from Turkey in Turkish. They must respond to requests on personal and privacy rights within 48 hours.

The platforms are also required to publish semi-annual reports to show request statistics on personal and privacy rights.

Social networks that do not remove illegal content within 24 hours despite a court verdict will be held responsible.

In addition, social media companies must take necessary measures to host Turkish-based users' data in Turkey.

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