Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Blogspot Banned . . . Again

PHOTO from Hurriyet Daily News

From Hurriyet Daily News:
A spat over rights to broadcast Turkish football matches has led a local court to issue a blanket ban on the popular blogging platform Blogger, angering Turkish Internet users with what experts said was a disproportionate response.

The court in the southeastern province of Diyarbakır banned the website, a property of Google Inc., in response to a complaint by the satellite television provider Digiturk, which owns the broadcast rights to Turkish Super League games. Matches broadcast on Digiturk’s Lig TV channel had been illegally posted by several Blogger users on their blogs.

“This is a disproportionate response by the court and undoubtedly has a huge impact on all law-abiding citizens,” cyber-rights activist Yaman Akdeniz told the Hürriyet Daily News & Economic Review on Wednesday, adding that millions of bloggers and blog readers would be affected by the Diyarbakır court decision.

“[I understand] there is a legitimate concern [regarding Digiturk’s commercial rights] but banning all these websites will not solve the issue. The decision opens the way to collateral damage,” said Akdeniz, who is also a law professor at Istanbul Bilgi University.

There are more than 600,000 Turkish bloggers actively using Blogger and some 18 million users from Turkey visited pages hosted by the site last month, Akdeniz said. The ban is expected to fully go into effect within a few days unless it is successfully challenged in court.

“If two people plan a criminal activity on the phone, should we ban the use of telephones all over the country?” asked Deniz Ergürel, the secretary-general of the Media Association.

“We believe this is a wrong approach to the issue and deprives millions of bloggers and Internet users from writing and sharing ideas online,” Ergürel, who is also a regular blogger, told the Daily News on Wednesday. He added that while the violation of Digiturk’s commercial rights should not be ignored, other solutions had to be found. “Even cursing, threatening or cheating over the phone is considered a crime, but this does not imply access to phones all over the country would be banned if there is a case against them,” he said.
Of course, this blog is a Blogspot/Blogger blog, and so for the time being, readers in Turkey are having to use proxy servers to gain access. There are many issues with how Turkey regulates the Internet, but at the heart of these broad "bans" is that the Telecommunications Board shuts off an entire website when only particular page or aspect of that page is troublesome. When we are talking about massive sites like YouTube and Blogspot, the orders become more than a little problematic, not to say ridiculous. For more on Turkey's Internet laws, click here. For more on Turkey's various disputes with Google, which operates Blogspot, click here.

UPDATE I (3/4) --  Google has petitioned the Turkish government to ends it blanket ban on Blogspot, calling on the Turkish government and firms concerned with copyright violations to use forms available on their website to seek redress for copyright violations rather than petitioning for the wholesale closure of websites. From a press statement the company has issued: “Instead of depriving all content owners from accessing Blogger services, we encourage them to make use of such a process. In this way, Blogger users from Turkey will be able to benefit from the services while we try to deal with the complaint.” Too much common sense? 

No comments: