Turkey reinstates YouTube ban

Wed Nov 3, 2010 12:25pm EDT
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By Ece Toksabay

ISTANBUL (Reuters) - A Turkish court has reinstated a 30-month ban on the popular video-sharing YouTube website just days after it was removed, deepening a dispute over online free expression in the European Union candidate country.

Access to YouTube, a unit of Google Inc, has been blocked by the Turkish government since May 2008 after users posted videos Turkey says are insulting to the republic's founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.

A court in Ankara on Saturday lifted the ban, which had drawn widespread criticism of Ankara's restrictive Internet laws, after a German-based firm at the request of Turkish authorities removed the videos by using an automated copyright system designed by Google to protect copyrighted material.

YouTube later said it had reinstated the videos, arguing such videos did not violate users' copyright.

But a separate court in Ankara ruled that the ban should be reinstated, this time over a secretly taped video purportedly showing the former chairman of the opposition, Deniz Baykal, in a bedroom with a female aide, state news Anatolian said on Tuesday.

Guleser Aykara, a spokeswoman for the Telecommunications Board, said it was notified of the new ban on Tuesday and would make a decision by Thursday on whether to implement the ban.

"We will first check if the undesirable content still remains on the website," Aykara told Reuters.

"YouTube could restrict access to prevent Turkish users from watching the videos, but may keep it accessible to other users. YouTube may not reply or may decline our demand, in which case access will be banned once again."   Continued...

<p>The Ottoman era Suleymaniye mosque is covered by fog as the sun sets in Istanbul, November 25, 2009. REUTERS/Murad Sezer</p>