Protesting Turkey's YouTube Ban

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

In May of 2008, judges in Turkey banned its citizens from accessing YouTube, under the justification that the Web site failed to obtain authorization to operate within the country. Now, two years later, according to a March 9 article by Clothilde Le Coz featured on MediaShift, newspapers in Turkey are organizing to protest what they view as a suppression of freedoms of speech.

The protest, which began in February, stemmed from two Turkish newspapers, Milliyet Cadde and Haberturk. Although there has been previous protests aimed at repealing the ban, they have been unable to attract widespread attention. The newspapers hope to overcome this precedent by publishing daily the number of days that has passed since the controversial ban.

In addition to the judge's justification that YouTube failed to obtain authorization, Turkish prosecutors and law enforcement officials have the right to "ban access to any website that incites suicide, pedophilia or drug use or that defames Kemal Ataturk (the first president of Turkey)," according to Le Coz. According to Reporters Without Borders, Turkey has wrongly applied this law to ban thousands of Web sites, including ten in 2008.

The ban has numerous political and social implications for Turkey, who currently awaits approval to join the European Union. It remains unclear whether or not the government's censorship of the internet will affect its acceptance to the union, however, many criticize Turkey's position as the 2010 "European Capitol of Culture," arguing that a "cultural" country should promote the democratic use of, rather than censor the Web.

I agree that Turkey's policies regarding YouTube and similar Web sites are not indicative of a country that values culture or freedom of speech. However, what interests me more on this subject, is how strongly journalists are fighting for access to YouTube. Clearly, what was originally seen as a means of entertainment, has become an essential tool for journalists. In my opinion, this is clearly a statement of just how much of a force YouTube, social media, and the democratic use of the Web has become in today's world.


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