Turkish Censors Target Google with New Bans

ISTANBUL (The Register)–Turkey’s web users again bear the brunt of heavy-handed censorship as the Telecommunications Presidency (TIB) has banned multiple Google services, according to reports, including Google Translate, Google Docs, and Google Books.

According to the International Business Times, the TIB released a statement last Thursday saying said it had banned many Google IP addresses because of “legal reasons.”But it did not elaborate those reasons. The statement said that some addresses are completely inaccessible while others are merely slow to load. Reports claim problems with Google AppEngine, FeedBurner, AdWords, and Analytics as well as Google Translate, Google Docs, and Google Books. Apparently, the ban began on June 4.

But Google has said it believes these services were banned accidentally and that it’s working with the Turkish government to solve the problem. “We have received reports that some Google applications are unable to be accessed in Turkey,” reads a statement from the company. “The difficulty accessing some Google services in Turkey appears to be linked to the ongoing ban on YouTube. We are working to get our services back up as soon as possible.”

Turkish authorities have continuously blocked access to YouTube since May 2008, after users uploaded videos that insulted the Turkish republic’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. And the government previously banned the video-sharing site on at least three other occasions.

Apparently, the first ban, in 2007, was a response to a parody news broadcast in which Greek football fans taunted the Turks by saying: “Today’s news; Kemal Ataturk was gay!” Under Turkish law–Law 5651–the courts can shut down any website that defames Ataturk or incites suicide, pedophilia, drug usage, obscenity, or prostitution.

The original video was taken down, but prosecutors have since objected to countless other videos insulting Ataturk.

Whether accidental or not, free-press outfit Reporters Without Boarders condemned Turkish authorities for extending the ban beyond YouTube, as it has long criticized the YouTube ban. “It is time the Turkish authorities demonstrated their commitment to free expression by putting an end to the censorship that affects thousands of websites in Turkey and by overhauling Law 5651 on the Internet, which allows this sort of mass blocking of sites,” Reporters Without Borders said in a statement.

“The censorship of YouTube in particular seems to be an archaic form of control, one that prevents Turks from accessing Web 2.0’s potential… [this] trend has been accentuated by the current problems in accessing other services provided by Google, which are widely used by Turkish Internet users,” the statement added.

The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) estimates that about 3,700 websites are “blocked for arbitrary and political reasons” in Turkey, including foreign websites, sites aimed at the country’s Kurdish minority, and gay sites.

Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that Turkey’s communications minister has called on Google to register as a taxpayer in the country, saying this would hasten a move towards lifting the YouTube ban. “The company should open a representation,” Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim said on Tuesday. “YouTube is a taxpayer in 20 countries, and we want them to do the same in Turkey.”

Google, in response, said it does not operate servers in Turkey, but will work with the government to resolve this issue. “Google complies with tax law in every country in which it operates,” reads another statement from the company. “We are currently in discussion with the Turkish authorities about this, and are confident we comply with Turkish law. We report profits in Turkey which are appropriate for the activities of our Turkish operations.”

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5 Comments

  1. john papazian said:

    Almost as bad as North Korea,right?Although they do need to keep a lid on things,the Kurdish genocide is not that far off.

  2. Edward said:

    Google is responsible for the jailing by the chinese commies of many dissidents & human rights activists and there have been protests by chinese against the cooperation between Google & the chinese authorities sending many to prison.Goggly Google will comply happily with the turkish officials in order to keep its business profits.As for Ataturk being a gay-thats a bloody insult for gay people everywhere – he was she in male disguise so `his` right name should be Anaturk.

  3. Yanni Czelig said:

    Unforrtunately for the Turks, Ataturk is a mass murderer. May 19, 1918 in his infamous speech Ataturk said: Turkey belongs to the Turks… this meant of course the annihilation of native non Turkish communities such as the Greeks, Armenians, Assyrians… and it extends now to the Kurds. More than 2 million people of the aforementioned communities have been purged while millions of others were cleansed from their ancestral homes. If Hitler had won World War II, he would probably hold in Germany the same revered position that Ataturk holds today in Turkey… The subsequent path of history does not change the bloody, genocidal and fascist legacy of either leader. It’s true Ataturk kept the territorial integrity of Turkey and founded the Modern Turkish Republic… In that sense he is the Ata… (father of the Turks) i.e Ataturk… yet as we see from the further genocidal campaigns agains the protected (by the Lauzanne treaty) Greek communities of Istanbul, Imvros and Tenedos in 1955, 1964, 1974, the ethnic cleansing of Greek populations (1/3 of the entire population of the island of Cyprus) from North Cyprus, the massive killing of Kurdish populations since the early 80s (now with the number of victims rising to 40,000), the cold blooded murder of Armenian Journalist Hrant Dink and the recent (March 2010) official threat for new deportations of Armenians by the Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan… the genocidal legacy of Ataturk permeates the entire realm of the Modern Turkish Republic and the Turkish nation. Therefore the banishment of google sites much similar to the regimes in China and North Korea comes as no surprise… The Turks originated in Western China and Mongolia anyways.

  4. powerscape said:

    Lawmakers are very silly persons.They supposed to block some web sites.But everybody can enter google,youtube etc.Praticaly, nothing banned in Turkiye.Because there’re tons of way to entering blocking sites and whole country know how to use it. e.g. just only change pc dns server ip to opendns ip numbers and everything is allright or you can use proxy programs like netshade or others, and some proxy sites, several dns ip numbers, ghost ways… But if you’re a newbie to pc and you do not know to use any of these ways, your pc will take automatic assigned dns ip, and you’ll be effected ban. However Prime Minister Erdogan watches blocked youtube and suggest peoples to use it and added that people also know how to open blocked sites. Still Turkish users have got high user ratings in these sites.This events occurs because of youtube ip pool complexity with google. And google still do not answer to Turkish government for their tax payments for a long time. Google have got office in Turkey, and they’re not registered as tax subject. Google pay taxes to every country except Turkiye. So, TAX is the center of it. Right now, I enjoy using all google services with high speed, watching youtube, etc in Turkiye.

  5. sako said:

    I’m replying to the information provided about Turkey banning youtube. In March 2007 the first ban was about one picture of Kemal crying by a Greek person. The second and third ban was because of a person whos screen names was Bourjhamoud Bourjhamoudkebab kebab2008 and so on who is Armenian. Whoever wrote this article is totally wrong on this information and it looks like they missed the whole part that it was a Lebanese Armenian who got the Turkish government to ban youtube until today. Perhaps these reporters should make a more in depth investigation and get the facts especially when an Armenian newspaper is writing information regarding Turkey. Interestingly enough,a Turkish reporter from Hurriyet newspaper, in the English version, wrote an article about the person “Bourjhamoud” regarding the ban as well. http://istanbulian.blogspot.com/2008/01/man-bit-dog-youtube-is-online-in-turkey.html
    another link http://www.hurriyet.com.tr/english/domestic/10508304.asp?scr=1
    these are examples of the videos http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XzxI14MxHo0

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