Turkey Wants Taxes From YouTube Despite Blocking the Site

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Turkey’s Secretary of Transportation Binali Yildirim wants Google to pay 30 million lira (about $18.7 million) in taxes for YouTube, despite the fact that the video site has been blocked in Turkey for more than two years, according to reports in Turkish and European media outlets.

Yildirim made his comments in response to reporters quizzing him about increased restrictions against the site that also have affected the availability of other Google services. The OpenNet Initiative reported this week that Turkish Internet users have been complaining about difficulties accessing Google Analytics, Google Earth and numerous other sites ever since the country’s High Council for Telecommunications decided to block additional IP numbers related to YouTube earlier this month.

Yildirim accused Google of intentionally switching YouTube’s IP numbers to other Google services to draw attention to the YouTube ban and “manipulate the public”, according to a report from Newstilt.com. His demands for YouTube to pay taxes in Turkey were triggered by a tax investigation against the company, based on the fact that YouTube has attracted many Turkish advertisers.

A Google spoksesperson told us that the company is complying with the tax law in every country it operates, adding: “We are currently in discussion with the Turkish authorities about this, and are confident we comply with Turkish law. We report profits in Turkey which are appropriate for the activities of our Turkish operations.”

YouTube remains popular in Turkey despite being blocked, and Newstilt reports that even politicians freely admit to circumventing the censorship:

“When Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan criticized the opposition over the controversial issue of the Islamic headscarf in late 2008, he told reporters they should go on YouTube to see for themselves what he meant. Stunned, journalists reminded him that access to the site was blocked, but Erdogan was unfazed. ‘I can get in,’ he replied. ‘You can get in as well.'”

YouTube was banned by Turkey in 2008 after videos supposedly insulting the country’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk appeared on the site.

Photo courtesy of (CC-BY-SA) Flickr user Kema Keur.

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