Turkey blocks YouTube access amid “security concerns”

Filed Under: Featured, Law & order, Social networks, Twitter

Turkey flag. Image courtesy of ShutterstockThe Turkish government continued its heavy-handed approach to social media on Thursday, restricting YouTube access less than a week after it blocked Twitter.

Turkish authorities ordered the shutdown of the site after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan denounced the "villainous, cowardly and immoral" publication of what appeared to be a leaked audio recording of Turkish officials discussing possible military action in Syria.

According to the Turkish national telecommunications authority, the decision to block YouTube was taken by Turkey's telecommunications authority (TIB) as a "precautionary administrative measure."

The telecommunications regulator was able to restrict access to YouTube with ease following the implementation of a new internet law in February, despite violent protestations in Istanbul, which allows the arbitrary blocking of websites without the need to obtain a court order.

Google reported that there were no technical issues within the region but did confirm that some Turkish users were unable to access YouTube.

The European Union's digital affairs commissioner Neelie Kroes condemned the move via Twitter.

"Another desperate and depressing move in #Turkey," she tweeted before adding, "Where will it end Mr Erdogan? #twitter #youtube #internet #turkey."

According to Reuters, an unnamed source within Erdogan's office said that action was taken after the voice recordings presented a "national security issue" and that the ban may be lifted should YouTube agree to remove the content in question.

The decision to block YouTube is a surprising one given the reaction to a similar move against Twitter last week.

Prior to a Turkish court in Ankara moving to suspend that ban on Wednesday, usage of the micro-blogging site surged, despite the government's best efforts to prevent access.

Now it appears that the government is attempting to subject itself to the 'Streisand Effect':

The Streisand effect is the phenomenon whereby an attempt to hide, remove, or censor a piece of information has the unintended consequence of publicizing the information more widely, usually facilitated by the Internet.

Barbara Streisand. Image courtesy of ShutterstockIt is named after American entertainer Barbara Streisand, whose attempt in 2003 to suppress photographs of her residence in Malibu, California, inadvertently generated further publicity.

I can already envisage the Turkish net-surfing public changing domain name settings (DNS) on their devices and using virtual private networks (VPNs) to gain access to those sites that their government would rather they did not see.

Turkey was recently ranked 154 out of 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index and the banning of social media sites will likely lessen the opportunities for free speech even further within a country that is quickly gaining a reputation for silencing dissent and censoring the web.

As for the future, Prime Minister Erdogan, who faces key elections on Sunday, has previously hinted that Facebook may also be barred due to what he sees as "all kinds of immorality, all kinds of espionage."

Image of Turkish flag and Barbara Streisand courtesy of Shutterstock.

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4 Responses to Turkey blocks YouTube access amid “security concerns”

  1. Deramin · 208 days ago

    It sort of baffles me that leaders aren't recognizing this pattern: If you ban social media and your population's use of that media skyrockets, you do not have the consent of the governed. If you don’t have their consent, they will get sick of you and toss you out eventually. This has been true for the entirety of human history, and no amount of guns, content blockers, or arrogance will ever change it. One can only hope PM Erdogan comes to his senses or gets peacefully tossed out before this ends badly.

  2. Osman · 206 days ago

    These platforms take care about court decisions in usa and eu but they do not care Turkey's court decisions. Now stop talking about cencorship and start talking double standarts and disrespectfull aproach of these platforms.

    • LonerVamp · 205 days ago

      Someday, some lower-third country's court will pass a request that YouTube shut itself completely down due to being immoral.

      Then what?

      You'd do the same thing if you ran a globally-accessible company that hosts user-supplied content that would not be impacted in the least if you had to shrug and ignore requests from measurably smaller countries. :(

      Maybe the real conversation would be more aptly placed on global censorship/morals? It might be just as ineffective, anyway.

  3. Andrew · 205 days ago

    Erdogan stop being the dictator we all know you are, your plans for Turkey will not be completed, Turkey must remain a democratic country and not a dictatorship as you intend.

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About the author

Lee Munson is the founder of Security FAQs, a social media manager with BH Consulting and a blogger with a huge passion for information security.