Two months after ban, Turkey restores YouTube access

The country's highest court deemed the ban unconstitutional late last week

Technology trends and news by Steven Loeb
June 3, 2014
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Good news for all of your readers in Turkey: finally, after nearly a month and a half, you can finally go back to watching your YouTube videos.

Wait, don't go yet! You can watch them after you finish this article.

It took four days after a ruling by the country's highest court, which said that the government's ban on the site was unconstitutional, for the site to officially be turned back on, but it has finally happened, according to a report from Reuters UK on Tuesday.

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.

A Constitutional Court deemed the ban unconstitutional in early April, but it wasn't until late May that the highest court ruled in YouTube's favor that the ban could officially be lifted.

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

It is unclear why it took so much longer for the decision to come down on the YouTube ban, as opposed to how quickly Twitter was turned back on.

VatorNews has reached out to YouTube for confirmation of the report. The company was unavailable for comment at this time, but it has confirmed to ReCode that Turkey has lifted been lifted.

“We are glad that YouTube has been restored in Turkey following our successful appeal to the courts, and that people and businesses can once again access and share information on YouTube," the company said in a statement. 

The banning of both Twitter and YouTube is a sign that Turkey is a country that is currently in flux, and one that does not quite know how to deal with its people being able to express themselves.

"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," Cem Sertoglu, Partner at Earlybird Venture Capital, a firm that has invests in Turkish start ups, told me the last time that Turkey ruled on the YouTube can.

"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."

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