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YouTube Ban in Twitterless Turkey Comes Just Days Before Election

Image: YouTube Ban in Twitterless Turkey Comes Just Days Before Election

By Nick Sanchez   |   Friday, 28 Mar 2014 07:25 AM

The Turkish government has instituted a ban on YouTube, a week after it blocked Twitter, and just days before local elections.

Turkey's Radio and Television Supreme Council said the ban was a matter of national security, as a conversation between top officials discussing a strategy for Syria may have been secretly recorded and leaked to websites like YouTube, CNN reported.

The government agency issued a statement on its website

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"It is seen as appropriate that a temporary broadcast ban be implemented on the voice recordings on social media and alleged to be between the foreign minister, the head of the National Intelligence Agency and military officials," the statement read.

Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan has been criticized on social media outlets like Facebook, Twitter and YouTube over the past year because he has facilitated the organization of opposition movements and protests like those this past summer in Gezi Park, Reuters reported.

"We won’t allow the people to be devoured by YouTube, Facebook or others," he said last week. "Whatever steps need to be taken we will take them without wavering."

When Twitter was banned, many Turkish citizens speculated Erdogan was attempting to quash evidence of corruption among his inner circle. Erdogan responded by saying any "evidence" of corruption found on social media sites was clearly fabricated by his political enemies. Regardless, the Twitter ban made the service explode across the world with criticism of the censorship, and many Turkish users were still able to use the system via SMS.

Likewise, Recode.net reported that many Turkish citizens were still able to access YouTube after the ban because the government did not properly block the service across all DNS numbers. In addition, many users used re-routing services to make their computer appear to be accessing the Internet from another country.

Almost daily for the past month, Erdogan's administration has been plagued by a campaign of supposedly leaked wiretap recordings between Erdogan, government officials, and even top corporate executives. The Prime Minister doesn't appear to outright deny the authenticity of the recordings, calling some of them "immorally edited." He also confirmed the authenticity of one recording in which he instructs the head of major television network to cut short the speech of a rival politician.

The new recording doesn't appear to be a wiretap like the others, but rather an in-person recording of the officials' meeting about Syria — constituting a possible major breach of security.

Nonetheless, a Turkish court ruled that the censoring agency must make Twitter available again within 30 days or appeal the injunction. It's possible it will do the same for the YouTube ban. The elections will be long over by then, however.

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