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Twitter Tries to Defuse Turkey Controversy

Twitter has agreed to close some accounts in Turkey, but the two sides are still at loggerheads over allegations of tax evasion and whether or not Twitter must maintain a physical presence in the country.

Twitter Vice President of Global Public Policy Colin Crowell led a delegation of sorts to address the country’s multifaceted grievances with the social media site.

Twitter was banned in Turkey in March. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s administration followed that up with claims that the company was evading taxes and refusing to heed to Turkish law.

Twitter did indeed agree to close some particularly objectionable accounts, but there was no deal for Twitter to pay Turkish taxes, or to set up an office there, a long-running complaint.

Following Turkey’s decision to ban Twitter, a domestic court ruled that the ban should be lifted. Alas, Erdogan — who has dubbed Twitter a “scourge” — is not giving up on the blockade.

Nor are some of his colleagues: Burhan Kuzu, a lawmaker spearheading efforts to rewrite Turkey’s constitution, last week asked the Constitutional Court to reinstate the ban. To bolster his case, he cited tweets that insulted him. Turkish courts have asked that the mean tweets be taken down, saying it amounts to slander, but Twitter is not complying, according to a Turkish minister.

[Source: Reuters, Bloomberg]

Mt. Gox Head Not Coming to U.S. to Testify

Mark Karpeles, the founder of the now-defunct Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox, has declined to go to the U.S. to answer questions about Mt. Gox’s American bankruptcy case.

The U.S. Department of Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network subpoenaed Karpeles, but he is “now in the process of obtaining counsel to represent him,” his lawyers said. That means Karpeles will not comply with the subpoena, which requires him to appear and answer questions in D.C. on Friday.

Mt. Gox housed more than US$400 million in bitcoins when it crumbled earlier this year. Karpeles claimed that the site was hacked, but there is enough uncertainty surrounding the situation that the French national’s U.S. assets were frozen last month.

[Source: Reuters]

Uber Faces Competition in Asia

Uber, the smartphone app that connects passengers with drivers, faced a slew of competition in Asia, where the company is making a big push.

Indeed, Uber clones in Asia abound: China has Kuadi (which claims more than 6 million transactions per day); Malaysia has GrabTax (which operates in five Southeast Asian countries); and India has a pair of already-established taxi-app outfits (Meru Cabs and Ola Cabs). Meanwhile, U.S.-based Lyft received a $250 million cash infusion from Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

For its part, Uber raised $258 million in venture capital last year — a big chunk came from Google Ventures — but it won’t try to bully its Asian counterparts. Instead, the company says it will pursue a strategy that a) taps into local partnerships, and b) targets Asia’s growing cohort of upwardly mobile business travelers, who might like being able to use a single platform across a slew of cities.

Over the past year, Uber has launched in cities such as Shanghai, Seoul, Bangkok and a handful of spots in India.

[Source: The Associated Press]

Vancouver to Consider WiFi at Parks

Vancouver’s park board commission Trevor Loke introduced a bill to introduced free WiFi at the city’s public spaces, including parks.

Loke is certainly a digital native. He became the city’s youngest-ever elected official in 2011 at the age of 22.

Last year Vancouver endorsed a digital strategy designed to upgrade its digital infrastructure.

[Source: The Globe and Mail]

David Vranicar is a freelance journalist and author ofThe Lost Graduation: Stepping off campus and into a crisis. You can check out hisECT News archive here, and you can email him at david[dot]vranicar[at]newsroom[dot]ectnews[dot]com. You can also connect with him on Google+.

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