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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  1. identicon
    Anonymous Coward, 9 Dec 2015 @ 4:35am

    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"

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