At first I thought China was the baddy as far as Internet censorship went!

Last month Turks found they could not access many Google services. YouTube is already banned. The Turkish government refuses to publish statistics, but campaigners for internet freedom estimate that more than 4,000 websites are currently blocked, making internet censorship in Turkey amongst the heaviest in the world.

Since virtually all the internet access in TRNC goes via Turkey this affects virtually all in Northern Cyprus. Why? What grounds are there for this censorship? The ban on YouTube was imposed by a court in Ankara on 5 May 2008, after a series of 17 temporary bans the preceding year. The grounds are varied and for non-Turks appear spurious and somewhat arbitrary. “Insulting Ataturk” was one of the reasons for banning YouTube, another was “fostering prostitution”, “inciting gambling” and so on.

In 2007 the government passed a sweeping law regulating the internet, known as Law No.5651. It allows a court to block any website where there is “sufficient suspicion” that a crime has been committed or that crime is being incited. It would appear that just one complaint is sufficient to get a site put on the “Block List”. Lack of transparency makes it is very difficult to pin down who or which body has complained in order to block a site and even more difficult to assess a motive for the censorship.

An issue about taxes to be paid by Google to Turkey is thought to play a not insignificant part in the closure of web services offered by the European Search Engine giant based in Ireland.

Oh, by the way, if you want to get YouTube and can’t then just use www.anonymouse.org.

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