Twitter is planning to establish a legal entity in Turkey to continue operating there under the country’s controversial internet law that took effect last year, the company announced late Friday. Under the law, social media companies that have more than 1 million users must store Turkish users’ data in the country.
Such companies also are required to designate an official representative in Turkey, who must answer requests to take down content that violates privacy within 48 hours. If the companies refuse to comply, they could face fines, advertising bans, and eventually bandwidth reductions that could make the platforms unusable.
“We remain committed to protecting the voices and data of people in Turkey who use Twitter. We will continue to be transparent about how we handle requests from government and law enforcement,” Twitter said in its statement.
Authorities in Turkey fined Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and TikTok 40 million liras (about $5.1 million) each in 2020 for failing to appoint the required local representative. Facebook, TikTok, and YouTube have since established the required legal entities in the country. Earlier this year, Twitter was among the social media companies that received a ban on advertising in Turkey under the new law.
The Turkish government says Internet Law 5651, as the legislation is called, is necessary to protect the rights of social media users in the country and to fight online criminal activity. But human rights organizations caution the law is censorship that risks access to information, in a country that the Associated Press notes has a history of restricting free speech.