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Twitter's Legal Battle in Turkey Has Wider Implications

Ray Le Maistre

Here's an interesting test for Turkey's legal system and an equally interesting precedent for the all social media and communications service providers.

Twitter Inc. has filed a lawsuit in an Ankara court in a bid to revoke a 150,000 Turkish lira (US$50,160) fine imposed on it in December by Turkey's Information and Communication Technologies Authority (ICTA) for failing to remove alleged terrorist propaganda from its site. The content in question was mostly related to the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK), which is regarded by the Turkish government as a terrorist organization.

According to this Reuters report, Twitter is claiming that the imposition of the fine is itself illegal.

The imposition of the fine followed a meeting in late November between the ICTA's President, Ömer Fatih Sayan PhD., and Twitter Vice President Colin Crowell, during which the topic of content supporting "terrorist organizations" was clearly a focus, according to this ICTA statement.

Twitter is obviously keen to hold its ground against the Turkish government, which has previously barred access to Twitter's servers following the company's refusal to remove content. The government has also blocked access to YouTube, only to have its actions against the web services firms overturned by the Turkish courts.

Now the courts need to rule on whether the fine is legal or not -- a decision that will come under intense scrutiny from the political systems and all public communications providers: If the fine is upheld it could open up the possibility of many more fiscal punishments for the operators of communications platforms and lead to self-censorship and other content-related strategic shifts.

The tension between Twitter and ICTA comes at a time when all communications service providers are faced with tough decisions about how they interact, cooperate and collaborate with government bodies. There are serious matters related to security, ethics and business to consider and there's little doubt that atrocities such as the Paris attacks on November 13 that left 130 people dead will put increasing pressure on the service providers to comply.

— Ray Le Maistre, Circle me on Google+ Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, Editor-in-Chief, Light Reading

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User Rank: Light Sabre
1/11/2016 | 12:41:58 AM
Re: Rock and a hard place
This is not too surprising in light of the challenges on the ground right now.    Erdogan thinks he's the next Sultan.  
User Rank: Light Sabre
1/8/2016 | 9:41:41 PM
Re: Rock and a hard place
There was a time where governments could better control and restrict communications access. Now, with so many different services running on a variety of systems, the idea of simply controling phone and internet is getting harder for governments. There's too many services to keep track of, and that's good for freedom. Not good for Twitter though, since it is now seen as a target. 
[email protected],
User Rank: Blogger
1/8/2016 | 7:40:01 AM
Rock and a hard place
The open social media platforms are going to be particularly vulnerable to political and behind-the-scenes pressures for comms that is on display inn public but the network operators, particularly mobile operators, are going to feel the heat over access to their networks and records.

Investments in analytics systems might make them even better placed to be willing or unwilling cooperatives to various bodies... 
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