Turkish court deems country's Twitter ban unconstitutional

After Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan instituted a ban -- “wiping out” the social network -- the country’s constitutional court says not so fast.

Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.
Dara Kerr
2 min read

Twitter's Turkey page. Screenshot by Dara Kerr/CNET

Though Turkey's Prime Minister, Tayyip Erdogan, recently used his power to block Twitter in the country, local courts have piped up in opposition to this move.

Turkey's constitutional court ruled Wednesday that the ban on Twitter was a violation of freedom of expression and individual rights, according to Reuters. This is the biggest legal challenge the ban has yet received.

At hearing the news, Twitter's global public policy team tweeted, "We welcome this Constitutional Court ruling, and hope to have Twitter access restored in Turkey soon."

The Turkish government took Twitter offline for the country's 76 million citizens on March 20 following actions by Erdogan. An unabashed critic of social networks, Erdogan threatened to "wipe out" the site in the wake of a political corruption scandal that has embarrassed the government through news, videos, and images posted on the microblogging site.

"We will wipe out Twitter. I don't care what the international community says," Erdogan said last month. "They will see the Turkish republic's strength."

One week after the Twitter ban was put in place, the government also blocked YouTube. Apparently, Turkish officials banned the video site because Google reportedly ignored requests from the government to remove YouTube videos that cast the prime minister in a critical light.

Erdogan has been under intense political pressure in recent weeks after recordings surfaced that purportedly were conversations between himself and his son, during which the two allegedly discussed how to hide large amounts of money. Erdogan has said the recordings are fake and has vowed to take legal action against the "vile attack."

The constitutional court hasn't been the only opponent of the Twitter ban -- political opposition leaders; the US and European Union governments; and Twitter have also challenged the site blocking.

According to Reuters, the constitutional court sent its decision on Wednesday to Turkey's telecoms authority, known as TIB, and to the Transport Ministry, which control the country's communications.

It's unclear if the court's ruling will result in the ban being lifted. In the meantime, Turkish citizens have reportedly found technological workarounds to continue tweeting with the help of Twitter and Google.