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Turkish court strikes down Youtube ban

[JURIST] Turkey's Constitutional Court [official website, in Turkish] on Friday partially lifted the country's ban on Youtube [corporate website], saying the blanket ban violated human rights. Access to the website was blocked after video of officials discussing an attack on Syria was leaked prior to the election. The Constitutional Court ruled [BBC report] the ban was too broad, and declared there will now only be 15 videos that will not be able to be accessed in the country. The ruling came just one day after the court ordered the government to unblock [JURIST report] Twitter [corporate website] for the same reason. Both the Youtube and Twitter bans were seemingly aimed at limiting the exposure of recordings of military and government officials discussing intervention in Syria. The ruling has reportedly not yet been implemented [CNN report] and it is unclear when access will be restored. Following the court ordering access be restored to Twitter, Turkey delayed the implementation by about 24 hours. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan [BBC profile; JURIST news archive] criticized the decisions as contrary to national security, but did agree to enforce the previous Twitter ruling.

Internet freedom remains a controversial issue around the world, garnering significant attention over the past few years. Turkish President Abdullah Gul [BBC profile] approved legislation [JURIST report] in February tightening Internet restrictions and allowing the government to block websites without court approval. In January 2013 a Canadian human rights group reported [JURIST report] that a number of nations are using American-made Internet surveillance technology to censor content and track citizens. China adopted new restrictions [JURIST report] on Internet service providers (ISPs) in December 2012, requiring ISPs to monitor and report online content found to be illegal. In July 2012 the UN Human Rights Council passed [JURIST report] its first resolution to protect the free speech of individuals online.

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