Turkish court lifts government's YouTube ban

Court still allows the government to ban 15 specific videos, but not the entire service

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
April 4, 2014
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With a Constitutional Court overturning the Turkish government's Twitter ban earlier this week, it seemed like only a matter of time before the same would happen with the country's ban on YouTube.

And, already, rulings are coming down in that direction.

A Turkisk court has ordered that the ban on YouTube be lifted, according to a report from Al Jazeera on Friday. The reason: the ban was too broad.

That is the good news. Here is the bad news: the court is still allowing the government to block 15 specific videos on the site. Also, unlike the Twitter ruling, this did not come down from a Constitutional Court, meaning that it the site will remained banned as this ruling is appealed to a higher court.

Still it is a step in the right direction.

The Turkish government banned YouTube on March 27th after a video appeared on the site with audio from a conversation between Turkey’s foreign minister, spy chief, and a top general in a high-security meeting that centered on the military situation in Syria.

Specifically, they discussed the Suleyman Shah Tomb, a military outpost that is officially considered Turkish land and has become a point of contention between Turkey and Syria. Terrorist groups in Syria have reportedly threatened to attack the tomb if Turkish soldiers don’t leave.

That ban came a week after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan banned Twitter in the country after he was accused of corruption on the social network. In a unanimously ruling, Turkey’s Constitutional Court declared on Wednesday that blocking Twitter was a violation of individuals’ freedom of speech, and the service was back on by Thursday.

Both of these moves show Turkey as a country in flux, and one that does not quite know how to deal with its people being able to express themselves, Cem Sertoglu, Partner at Earlybird Venture Capital, a firm that has invests in Turkish start ups, told me. 

"Turkey is in quite a confused state right now. The mainstream media has lost the trust of the people, especially educated ones, and Twitter has emerged as a news reader. There had been site bans in the past, so the Turkish public is well-versed in VPNs an DNS workarounds," he said.

"In short: The bans will not work. These are missteps taken with panic, and things will revert back to normal. We see these as the growing pains of a young democracy."

VatorNews has reached out to YouTube for a comment on the ruling. We will udpate this story if we learn more.

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