Turkey YouTube ban violated freedom of expression: Europe court (Update)

December 1, 2015
A Turkish court had barred access to video-sharing site YouTube over 10 videos deemed insulting to modern Turkey's founding fath
A Turkish court had barred access to video-sharing site YouTube over 10 videos deemed insulting to modern Turkey's founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk

The European Court of Human Rights ruled on Tuesday that Turkey had violated conventions on freedom of expression when it banned YouTube for more than two years.

An Ankara court had barred access to the video-sharing site from May 2008 to October 2010 over 10 videos deemed insulting to modern Turkey's founding father Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the Strasbourg-based rights tribunal said.

"Blocking without a legal basis users' access to YouTube infringed the right to receive and impart information," it said, ruling on a case brought by three Turkish law professors.

"The court also found that there was no provision in the law allowing the domestic courts to impose a blanket blocking order on access to the Internet, and in the present case to YouTube, on account of one of its contents."

The lengthy ban on YouTube—and thousands of other websites—had prompted widespread concern about freedom of expression under then prime minister and now President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who critics say has become increasingly authoritarian.

Before the ban, YouTube had been the fifth most popular site in Turkey.

Erdogan and the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP) have been repeatedly criticised for using court orders to block critical websites, topping a Google table for content removal requests.

Last year the search engine also accused Turkey of intercepting its Internet domain, redirecting users to other sites.

The government blocked Twitter and YouTube in March 2014 after they were used to spread a torrent of audio recordings implicating Erdogan—then premier—and his inner circle in an alleged corruption scandal.

Turkey's parliament in March also approved legislation to tighten the government's control over the Internet by allowing it to block websites without prior judicial authorisation, sparking outrage both at home and abroad and a condemnation from the country's Constitutional Court.

Erdogan has also made no secret of his disdain for social networks, comparing them to a "murderer's knife" and once famously vowing to "eradicate" Twitter.

The European court said in its ruling Tuesday that "YouTube was a single platform which enabled information of specific interest, particularly on political and social matters, to be broadcast.

"It was therefore an important source of communication and the blocking order precluded access to specific information which it was not possible to access by other means."

Explore further: Turkish government lifts Twitter ban

Related Stories

Turkish government lifts Twitter ban

April 3, 2014

Turkey's government lifted its ban on Twitter on Thursday—a day after the country's highest court ruled that the block was a violation of freedom and must be restored.

Turkish court orders Facebook pages blocked

January 26, 2015

Turkey's state-run news agency says a court has ordered authorities to block access in the country to Facebook pages that "insult" the Prophet Muhammad, in the latest move to censor the Internet.

Turkey keeps YouTube ban after court backtrack

April 5, 2014

YouTube will remain blocked in Turkey, despite the end to a similar controversial ban on Twitter, after a court backtracked on an earlier ruling to grant access to the video-sharing site.

Recommended for you

Microsoft aims at Apple with high-end PCs, 3D software

October 26, 2016

Microsoft launched a new consumer offensive Wednesday, unveiling a high-end computer that challenges the Apple iMac along with an updated Windows operating system that showcases three-dimensional content and "mixed reality."

Making it easier to collaborate on code

October 26, 2016

Git is an open-source system with a polarizing reputation among programmers. It's a powerful tool to help developers track changes to code, but many view it as prohibitively difficult to use.

Dutch unveil giant vacuum to clean outside air

October 25, 2016

Dutch inventors Tuesday unveiled what they called the world's first giant outside air vacuum cleaner—a large purifying system intended to filter out toxic tiny particles from the atmosphere surrounding the machine.


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.