Just a week after Google’s most recent censorship battle with China, they are facing similar issues in Turkey. For the past few weeks internet users in Turkey have been unable to get access to some of the most widely used websites run by Google. The websites were ‘accidentally’ blocked by the Turkish authorities in their efforts to enforce an existing ban on the website YouTube, which happens to be owned by Google.
It is difficult to locate the origin of the initial censorship, due to the tangled web of Turkish bureaucracy. However, it is thought that the continued presence of derogatory videos on youtube was the starting point. These videos undermine Kemal Atatürk, the first President of the republic of Turkey and a national hero. Google has taken steps by offering to block this offensive content. But, keeping its no censorship approach, google is refusing to remove the content completely.
A further complication to the issue is that Turkey is now saying that if google wants the ban lifting, then it must register in Turkey and pay taxes to the country. Which would suggest that the issue has less to do with content on youtube and more to do with financial gain for Turkey.
This can be seen as a bizarre move by Turkey, as they are currently mounting a bid to become a member of the European Union. They also postulate that they are the most modern model of Muslim democracy. This level of censorship does not exactly fit the modern image that they are trying to portray. Some of the more irate activists are likening the level of censorship to that of China and even Iran. However, most countries have levels of government censorship. They tend to cover things such as paedophilia and terrorism, which are deemed to affect society.
The Turkish Google block is not only a freedom of speech issue; it is also affecting the productivity of many Internet based businesses in the country. Leaving many furious at lack of respect for the taxpayer by the Turkish Government. It is not yet clear how Google will deal with this latest foreign challenge. However, the Turkish Government is unapologetic, so it looks like it is up to Google to make the next move.