Sunday, June 1, 2014

YouTube Ban Unconstitutional: Constitutional Court

Rabin Man Shakya

In a legal tug of war between the YouTube and the Turkey government headed by Recep Tayyip Erdogan over the ban of YouTube in Turkey, YouTube has emerged as a winner causing big setbacks to the Turkish government.

According to media reports, Turkey's highest court - the Constitutional Court - ruled that a government ban on the video-sharing social media site YouTube was unconstitutional and a violation of freedom of expression, paving the way for the lifting of the  two-month blockade.

Turkey was without the access to YouTube for two months because the Turkish government had blocked it following an audio recording leaked on YouTube had revealed that top officials in Turkey were plotting to fake an attack against their own country as an excuse to wage war on Syria.

The Telecommunications Authority of Turkey said that the ban on YouTube was a "precautionary administrative measure" amid concerns over national security, media reports added. Last month, the Turkish government was made to remove a ban on Twitter a day after the Court issued a similar ruling.

But, unfortunately, the uncertainty in Turkey's journalistic and social media spectrum is far from over, especially when arrogant Turkish prime minister Erdogan keeps saying: "We will not leave this nation at the mercy of YouTube and Facebook. We will take necessary steps in the strongest way."

No wonder, Turkey ranks 154th among 180 countries on the World Press Freedom Index released by Reporters Without Borders on Feb 12, 2014, just behind war-torn nations such as Afghanistan and Iraq. Turkey has failed to make progress in its press freedom record. Turkey continues to rank among the "world's biggest prisons for journalists", according to the Reporters Without Borders.

So why is the government of Turkey working so hard against the social media sites like Twitter, YouTube and Facebook?  Social media helps people mobilize and organize, and it also helps audience and reporters from afar keep track of different sources and perspectives. Social media is playing a big role as a custodian of democracy and human rights abuse. Just like the mainstream media, the social media is enhancing its role and presence as a watchdog against authoritarianism.

This is no wonder that some authoritarian and pseudo-democratic governments and powerful political parties are vulnerable to the social media sites. In fact, what is not published by the mainstream media is published by the social media. Some countries like China, Russia and Turkey are even trying to step up their presence in the social media sites by employing thousands of youths to that effect and also by employing the ban tactics.

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