Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Turkey blocks Google to enforce 2007 ban on YouTube

Turkey has blocked Google sites to enforce its ban on YouTube.

Turkey Blocks Google Sites -- Accidently?
Justin Vela
AOL News
ISTANBUL (June 9) -- In a move meant to enforce an ongoing ban on YouTube, Turkey has blocked access to more than 30 Google websites.

Since Friday many of the Internet giant's top sites, including Google Translate, Google Docs, Google Books and Google Analytics, have been blocked or slow to load inside the country, according to the country's Internet Technologies Association, which filed an official complaint to the government.


"We have received reports that some Google applications are unable to be accessed in Turkey," Google said in a statement. "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."

YouTube was banned by a March 2007 court decision after videos accusing Turkey's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, of homosexuality were uploaded to the website from Greece. Turks and Greeks traded insults in the comments section beneath the videos until the site was banned, after which a statement appeared saying, "Access to this site has been denied by court order!"

Though YouTube agreed to take down the offending clips, courts have upheld the ban in subsequent years, accusing YouTube of "insulting Turkishness." The same accusation was directed against Nobel Prize-winning novelist Orhan Pamuk after he told a Swiss interviewer in 2005 that "30,000 Kurds and a million Armenians were killed in these lands and nobody but me dares to talk about it." The criminal charges were later dropped amid international protests.

At the time it was banned, YouTube was the ninth most popular website in Turkey. Other countries that have banned YouTube are Armenia, Iran, Libya, Morocco, Pakistan and China.

Media censorship has a long history in Turkey. The main national publications are considered to be heavily biased toward either government or opposition forces. Journalists face regular attacks and harassment, and 18 Turkish journalists have been slain since 1992.

The Paris-based organization Reporters Without Borders spoke out against the Google block in a recent statement. "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."

According to the organization, 3,700 websites are blocked in Turkey.

"I do not want to see Turkey classified as a country that bans YouTube, that has no access to Google," President Abdullah Gul said last week, urging a change in existing laws. Yet the transport and communications minister called Google on Tuesday to demand the company register in the country as a taxpayer, claiming it owed $18.6 million. He said paying that bill would contribute to lifting the ban on Google websites.

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