A Turkish court has lifted a ban on YouTube after anti-Ataturk material was removed from the site. But media activists say Turkey continues to block thousands of other websites.
The ban had been put in place since September 2007
On Saturday, a Turkish court lifted a three-year ban on YouTube after material viewed as demeaning to the country's modern founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, was taken off of the video-sharing website, according to the Turkish state-run news agency, Anatolian.
The ban had been widely criticized by Internet advocates, free speech activists, and even the Turkish President Abdullah Gul.
"We've received reports that some users in Turkey are once again able to access YouTube," the company, which is owned by Google, wrote in a statement. "We want to be clear that a third party, not YouTube, has apparently removed some of the videos that have caused the blocking of YouTube in Turkey using our automated copyright complaint process."
Turkish President Abdullah Gul had previously denounced the YouTube ban
Turkey has continued to block other sites
On June 4, 2010, Turkey also blocked access to more than 30 Google sites, some of which had been reconfigured so that Turkish users could access YouTube. Turkey has also fined YouTube 15.6 million euros ($21 million) for not paying taxes in Turkey on the advertising revenue generated by Turkish YouTube users prior to the ban.
Some media organizations, and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a human rights group, have also urged Turkey to pull back the country's Internet Law, which was also adopted in June. That piece of legislation was originally intended to block pornography and other content not suitable for children, but has since been expanded to encompass more than 5,000 websites.
"I ask the Turkish authorities to revoke the blocking provisions that prevent citizens from being part of today's global information society," said Dunja Mijatovic, the OSCE's media freedom representative, in a June message to Turkey's Foreign Minister Ahmet Davutoglu, adding that the law "considerably limits freedom of expression and severely restricts citizens' right to access information."
Author: Cyrus Farivar (AFP, Reuters)
Editor: Sam Edmonds