Turkey said on Tuesday it had won a long-running battle to persuade the
video-sharing website YouTube to operate under a Turkish web domain,
giving Ankara a tighter rein over the site's content and requiring the
firm to pay Turkish taxes.
Turkey, which banned the popular website
for more than two years in 2008, has long come under international
criticism for its restrictive internet laws and over the EU-candidate's
record on freedom of expression.
"This is an important
development. For a long time we have made a call to internet firms in
Turkey 'you are operating in this country, you must be resident here',"
Transport and Communications Minister Binali Yildirim said.
this sharing site (YouTube) has decided to reside in Turkey. It is now
operating under 'com.tr'," he told reporters, referring to Turkey's
internet domain initials.
YouTube released a brief statement on
Monday saying it had launched its Turkish website, which would give
users a "Turkish language experience with great, locally relevant
content". It made no mention of any dispute with the Turkish government.
Yildirim, using a common Turkish expression, said YouTube, a subsidiary
of the world's No. 1 internet search engine Google Inc, had agreed to
set up its Turkish operation after it had "felt the pressure".
will now be in a binding and critical position to implement court
decisions and remove any objectionable publications," Yildirim said.
"Further more it will also pay taxes on its operations."
spokeswoman said internet users browsing on a Turkish IP address would
automatically be redirected to the 'youtube.com.tr' domain. If Turkey
had a valid court order banning a particular video, access to that
content would also be blocked on the main 'youtube.com' address.
week, a Turkish court issued an order allowing authorities to block
access to an amateurish online video "The Innocence of Muslims", which
sparked a wave of deadly riots in the Muslim world.
initiated the court order, said removing such videos in the past had
been problematic because of the need to contact organisations outside
Turkey. But officials would be able to move much quicker, now that
YouTube was registered in Turkey, he added.
"Now, as soon as the court makes its decision, all the demands will be carried out immediately," Yildirim said.
May 2008, the government blocked access to YouTube for 30 months after
users posted videos Turkey deemed insulting to the republic's founder,
Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Media watchdog Reporters sans Frontieres
(RSF) in 2010 placed Turkey on its list of "countries under
surveillance" and urged the government to guarantee online free
expression in Turkey, where several thousand sites are banned.
groups have long pressed Turkey to reform its harsh internet laws and
analysts have criticised the ease with which citizens and politicians
can apply under Turkish law to have a site banned.
offences including child pornography and insulting Ataturk to justify
blocking websites. But Turkish users have been able to circumvent bans
by using proxy websites.
Copyright Thomson Reuters 2012