Monday, December 08, 2008

Rick, even though it's Turkey, you might be interested. ;-)

The Google side of the YouTube blocking
ISTANBUL - As scores of Web sites, including YouTube, remain blocked in Turkey, the New York Times has revealed the behind the scenes story of the YouTube ban within Google that owns the Web site.

According to a lengthy article published Friday in the New York Times Magazine, in March 2007, Nicole Wong, the deputy general counsel of Google, was notified that there had been an abrupt fall in activity on YouTube in Turkey and that the Turkish government was blocking access to YouTube for virtually all Turkish Internet users.

Upon this Wong and her colleagues rushed to figure out which videos provoked the court order. After identifying the video, a parody news broadcast insulting Kemal Atatürk, the founder of Turkey, Wong called on Turkish authorities to reconsider their decision, pointing out that YouTube users had already voluntarily removed the original offending video.

But after the video was taken down, Turkish prosecutors objected to dozens of other YouTube videos they claimed insulted either Atatürk or Turkishness. After having many of the videos translated into English, Wong and her colleagues set out to determine which ones were, in fact, illegal in Turkey Ğ which would be a violation of YouTube’s terms of service that prohibit speeches of hatred but allow political speech; and which constituted expression Google and YouTube would try to protect. This was when differences of opinion emerged between the team members.

"There was a vigorous internal debate between Wong and her colleagues at the top of Google’s legal pyramid." Wong, who had to play mediator, decided that Google, by using a technique called IP blocking, would prevent access to videos that clearly violated Turkish law, but only in Turkey. For a time, this solution seemed to work for the Turkish judges, who reopened access to YouTube.

But last June a Turkish prosecutor made a demand that Google block access to the offending videos all over the world, to protect the rights and sensitivities of Turks living outside the country. Google refused, arguing that one nation’s government should not be able to set limits of speech for Internet users worldwide. As a result Youtube has remained blocked in Turkey.

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