News / Europe

    Turkey Accuses Twitter of 'Tax Evasion'

    FILE - This picture taken on July 20, 2009 in Paris shows the frontpage of Twitter, a leading Internet microblogging site. Turkey's prime minister accused Twitter on April 12, 2014 of tax evasion after the micro-blogging site was used to spread a number of damaging leaks implicating his inner circle in corruption scandals.
    FILE - This picture taken on July 20, 2009 in Paris shows the frontpage of Twitter, a leading Internet microblogging site. Turkey's prime minister accused Twitter on April 12, 2014 of tax evasion after the micro-blogging site was used to spread a number of damaging leaks implicating his inner circle in corruption scandals.
    Reuters
    Turkey urged executives from Twitter to open an office and start paying Turkish tax on Monday in the first direct talks since a two-week ban imposed on the site as the government battled a corruption scandal.
     
    Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan's government blocked Twitter and YouTube in March, drawing international condemnation, after audio recordings, purportedly showing corruption in his inner circle, were leaked on their sites.
     
    The block was lifted 10 days ago after the constitutional court ruled that it breached freedom of expression, a decision Erdogan has since said was wrong and should be overturned. YouTube remains largely blocked in Turkey.
     
    The prime minister on Saturday accused Twitter of being a “tax evader”, repeating his combative stance ahead of the talks between his government and the San Francisco-based company.
     
    “Twitter, YouTube, Facebook, these are international companies. They're companies established for profit,” he said at the opening ceremony for a purification plant in Istanbul.
     
    “We will deal with them. They will come like every international company and comply with my country's constitution, laws and tax rules,” CNN Turk reported Erdogan as saying.
     
    A senior Turkish official told Reuters that Twitter's head of global public policy, Colin Crowell, was holding two rounds of talks in Ankara with the aim of opening up a better channel of communication. He described the first meeting as “positive”.
     
    “The aim is for the company to pay tax and to resolve the problem of meeting Turkey's just demands by opening a representative office here,” he said.
     
    The government estimates that Twitter generates $35 million a year in advertising revenue in Turkey, none of it taxed by Ankara, he said.
     
    There was no immediate comment from Twitter.
     
    Access to the service was blocked on March 21 in the run-up to local elections to stem a stream of leaked wiretapped recordings. Erdogan said he would “root out” the network.
     
    Tech-savvy Turks quickly found workarounds, and the company itself published a tweet to Turkish users instructing them on how to continue tweeting via SMS text message.
     
    Tax Model Criticized
     
    Because of its nature as a public, broadcast medium and its viral network model, where information can spread exponentially through “retweets,” Twitter has been viewed as a particularly destabilizing force by some governments.
     
    The social media site was blocked for roughly four years in Iran following protests during its 2009 presidential election and has also been banned in China since 2009.
     
    Turkey said at the time of the ban that access would be restored if Twitter appointed a local representative, paid tax and agreed to block specific content when requested.
     
    Like many technology companies, Twitter uses a non-traditional but highly tax-efficient business structure.
     
    Its international headquarters are in Dublin but it also has offices in cities from Amsterdam and Paris to Rio de Janeiro and Seoul, according to its website, where staff market advertising services to mainly business customers.
     
    However, customers in countries like Turkey, Germany and Britain transact directly with the Dublin-based Twitter International Company, terms of business on its website show.
     
    Staff in subsidiaries in countries like Germany and Britain market the company's advertising services to local customers and these subsidiaries are funded by payments from other Twitter companies, like Twitter International, their accounts show.
     
    This structure can ensure that Twitter subsidiaries in such countries report little profit and pay little tax.
     
    The Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which has been charged by the G20 with devising a blueprint to crack down on corporate tax avoidance, has criticized such structures, as have parliamentary investigations in the United States and Britain.
     
    Turkey has also said it wants the removal of tweets which it considers harmful to national security, the privacy of individuals and personal rights, and wants Twitter to hand over the IP addresses of those accounts which it views as a threat.
     
    Last week the head of parliament's constitutional commission, Burhan Kuzu of Erdogan's ruling AK Party, applied to the constitutional court seeking a renewed block on access to Twitter on the grounds of a personal insult against him.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora