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Turkey tops countries demanding content removal: Twitter

ISTANBUL:  Turkey filed over five times more content removal requests to Twitter than any other country in the second half of 2014, data published by the micro-blogging site showed on Monday.

The figures are likely to reinforce fears of a crackdown on Internet freedom in the predominantly Muslim NATO state where President Tayyip Erdogan has said he is determined to stamp out what he sees as illegal online activities.

Twitter’s transparency report showed Turkey filed 477 content removal requests between July and December, an increase of more than 150 percent compared to the first six months of 2014.

Russia and Germany followed with 91 and 43 removal requests respectively. Overall, government requests for removal of material were up by 40 percent.

Turkish requests generally focussed around accusations of violation of personal rights and defamation of private citizens and government officials.

Turkey temporarily blocked Twitter and Youtube in the run-up to local elections last March, after audio recordings purportedly showing corruption in Erdogan’s inner circle were leaked on their sites. The decision caused a public uproar and drew heavy international criticism.

Erdogan said the corruption scandal was engineered by political opponents to topple him and vowed to “eradicate” Twitter which he accused of threatening national security.

In January, the ruling AK Party proposed a new law which would allow ministers to temporarily ban websites deemed to threaten lives, public order or people’s rights and freedoms by committing a crime.

“We filed court objections in response to over 70 percent of the Turkish court orders we received, winning around 5 percent of our appeals,” Twitter said, adding that about 15 percent of its objections were still pending with the courts.

It said it complied with 13 percent of Russian requests, but said it had denied several demands to silence critics of the Kremlin.

Germany’s requests, mainly dealing with alleged hate-crimes, were complied with in about a third of the cases. – Reuters

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