Turkey's YouTube Ban Breached Right To Information, Says European Court Of Human Rights

from the not-just-for-cat-videos dept

Last week Techdirt wrote about a curious case involving the Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and Gollum. In passing, Mike mentioned that the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) had just made an important ruling involving one of Turkey’s many bans on YouTube. Here’s what the ECHR found (pdf):

that there had been a violation of Article 10 (freedom of expression) of the European Convention on Human Rights.

The case concerned the blocking of access to YouTube, a website enabling users to send, view and share videos.

The Court found in particular that the applicants, all academics in different [Turkish] universities, had been prevented from accessing YouTube for a lengthy period of time and that, as active users, and having regard to the circumstances of the case, they could legitimately claim that the blocking order in question had affected their right to receive and impart information and ideas.

One interesting aspect is how the court describes YouTube — not just a place to find cat videos, but:

a single platform which enabled information of specific interest, particularly on political and social matters, to be broadcast. It was therefore an important source of communication and the blocking order precluded access to specific information which it was not possible to access by other means.

A post on Access Now points out that this latest decision is the second such ruling involving Turkey and the ECtHR — Techdirt wrote about the earlier one back in 2012:

This ruling builds on the earlier ruling by the ECtHR in Yildrim v. Turkey (2012), which found against the Turkish practice of blocking entire sites and web services when content might have been illegal in only some instances. In the 2012 decision, the court recognized the claim of the owner of a service using Google Sites; in this case, the plaintiffs were not site owners, but users. In short, this ruling recognizes the rights and standing of internet users under the [European Convention on Human Rights]. The academics also successfully petitioned the court to recognize the concept of “citizen journalism” for the first time. This opens the door for more non-credentialed, unlicensed, or independent journalists and bloggers to fight for their rights.

Those broader implications make the win by the three Turkish academics even more valuable, since the ECtHR judgment can now be used to fight censorship in any of the 47 countries that have ratified the European Convention on Human Rights (pdf).

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Comments on “Turkey's YouTube Ban Breached Right To Information, Says European Court Of Human Rights”

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19 Comments
Klaus says:

Not just Spain, but the UK.

http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2014/10/03/britain-s-pm-cameron-and-his-awful-assault-on-human-rights-court.html

David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister best known for fucking a dead pig in the mouth, is also well known for his absolute loathing of the European Court of Human Rights. I also love how he was recently chided by the House of Lords for his tax credits proposals being too hard on the poor. You have to think about that last one for a minute…

Klaus says:

Complicated

Turkey is and always was a country on the crossroads, bridging continents both physically and metaphorically. It applied for EU membership in the mid ’80s and was an early member of NATO. It was even a founding member of the post WWII Council of Europe.

Yes, it’s a Muslim country, but it’s government is secular, with no official state religion.

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Re: Complicated

Yes, it’s a Muslim country, but it’s government is secular,

Not for the last 10 years. Erdogan is very far from “secular”. He started as an avowed Islamist – but has since put on a front of secularism.
From the WIkipedia article about his party:

“Controversies over whether the party remains committed to secular principles enshrined in the Turkish constitution despite their Islamist origins have dominated Turkish politics since 2002 and has resulted in numerous unsuccessful closure cases.[17] Critics have accused the AKP of having a ‘hidden agenda’ despite their public endorsement of secularism and the party maintains informal relations and support for the Muslim Brotherhood.[18][19][20][21] Both the party’s domestic and foreign policy has been perceived to be Pan-Islamist or Neo-Ottoman, advocating a revival of Ottoman culture often at the expense of secular republican principles, while increasing regional presence in former Ottoman territories”

Anonymous Coward says:

Re: Complicated

Turkey is officially a secular state. The current president Erdogan is engaged in a Turkish nationalist movement, sometimes referred to as neo-Ottoman revival. He is skilled at using Turkish nationalism and/or Islam when he believes it will further his agenda.
Turkey was for a long time part of the US-crafted Israel-Turkey-Saudi-Pakistan axis, which served as basis for an attempt at controlling Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Iran, and thereby world oil supply, in an attempt to retain the global supremacy of the US (look up ‘petro-dollar’).
The current quagmire in Syria is perceived as fraught with opportunity for expanding Turkey beyond her present borders. Having increased his presidential powers through political maneuvering and posturing, he has shown a readiness to deal harshly with critics and political opponents.
Geographically, the westernmost part of Turkey is in Europe but politically it is not perceived as particularly European. The US would like to see Turkey as part of the EU but the populations in the EU are understandably not keen on having them.

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

Turkey is still trying to join the EU. They will have to obey this ruling when they get there.

No actually the ECHR is separate from the EU and they are already bound by it as they are a member of the Council of Europe.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Member_states_of_the_Council_of_Europe

Their progression toward membership of the EU has somewhat stalled in recent years.

Anonymous Coward says:

the UK is one such country that is shutting down websites, all on the say-so of the entertainment industries. this ruling will be totally ignored by Cameron and his oppoes because there must be back handers flying around. remembering that the UK has put in place a dedicated police force, using tax payers money, to find and sue as many people as possible. the thing i find so strange is that if we were talking about any other industry, that industry would be forced to make maximum effort to protect itself and then forced to take the correct road to keep customers. as it’s the entertainment industries, everything else is thrown under the bus in favor of using anyone’s and everyone’s money to get as many people convicted of a crime instead of reaching sensible outcomes. that also seems to apply to any digital media that isn’t wanted by the original purchaser. totally ridiculous!

Richard (profile) says:

Re: Re:

the UK is one such country that is shutting down websites, all on the say-so of the entertainment industries

Just like the US then – only maybe a bit less so – as usual and almost certainly it is US companies that are dictating.

remembering that the UK has put in place a dedicated police force, using tax payers money, to find and sue as many people as possible.

You’re talking about the City of London Police here I assume.

Well it wasn’t set up for that – you can’t really blame our government directly. It was set up to police fraud in the City of London. However it has taken upon itself the role of copyright cop without anyone (other than the entertainment industry) asking it to do so.

PaulT (profile) says:

Re: Re:

“the UK is one such country that is shutting down websites, all on the say-so of the entertainment industries”

So… just like the US, then?

“this ruling will be totally ignored by Cameron and his oppoes because there must be back handers flying around”

So… just like the US, then?

“remembering that the UK has put in place a dedicated police force, using tax payers money, to find and sue as many people as possible”

No, it hasn’t.

“as it’s the entertainment industries, everything else is thrown under the bus in favor of using anyone’s and everyone’s money to get as many people convicted of a crime instead of reaching sensible outcomes”

So… just like the US, then?

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