Turkey extends the censorship of YouTube
So far, Turkey does not seem to be impressed by the criticism against its censorship policy regarding Internet content and blocking of websites.
On 4 June 2010, the High Council for Telecommunications reported having asked ISPs to block additional YouTube-linked IP addresses and since then, Turkish Internet users have had problems accessing Google services such as Google Analytics, Google Translate, Google AdWords or Google Docs.
The Turkish authorities have been blocking access to YouTube since May 2008 because of videos considered to be insulting for Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, the Turkish republic's founder.
Reporters Without Borders added Turkey to the list of "countries under surveillance" in its report on "Enemies of the Internet," issued in March 2010.
"It is time the Turkish authorities demonstrated their commitment to free expression by putting an end to the censorship that affects thousands of websites in Turkey and by overhauling Law 5651 on the Internet, which allows this sort of mass blocking of sites," stated the group.
The Turkish president expressed his disapproval to the measures taken by his country: "I do not want Turkey to be included among the countries that ban YouTube and prevent access to Google. (....) If there are problems due to our legislation, there should be ways to overcome that," he said.
Google, in its turn, told The Register that it believed its services were banned accidentally and that it would work with the Turkish authorities to solve the issue. "The difficulty accessing some Google services in Turkey appears to be linked to the ongoing ban on YouTube. We are working to get our services back up as soon as possible," says a company statement.
Reporters Without Borders also signalled a worrying situation created by the existence of the Turkish law on Internet. Based on the law, Yörsan, a privately-owned dairy products company, is threatening to sue the news website EmekDunyasi.net if it does not withdraw some old articles that presented the company in a bad light.
According to the present law, the site could be closed if it refuses to take down the respective reports and the owners of the site may even go to prison. Article 9 of Law 5651 says: "Anyone who believes their rights are being violated may ask the content provider to withdraw the offending content (...) The content provider or access provider must carry out this request within two days. If the request is refused, the matter can be referred to a police court within 15 days (...) If the court so rules, the penalty for offenders is from six months to two years in prison."
EmekDunyasi.net netly refused to comply with Yörsan's request: "If this company is so attached to its brand value, it should respect the union rights that are guaranteed by the constitution."
"This kind of judicial blackmail is a real problem. (...) Few journalists dare to criticise private sector companies or financial groups for fear of reprisals. We urge the Turkish courts not to tolerate Yörsan's censorship attempt, which could set a dangerous precedent for the online media," stated Reporters Without Borders.
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