Turkish court axes YouTube ban over free speech concerns

Turkey's Constitutional Court puts the kibosh on a YouTube ban, saying the prohibition ran afoul of the country's free speech laws.

Seth Rosenblatt Former Senior Writer / News
Senior writer Seth Rosenblatt covered Google and security for CNET News, with occasional forays into tech and pop culture. Formerly a CNET Reviews senior editor for software, he has written about nearly every category of software and app available.
Seth Rosenblatt

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan waves the four-finger sign of rabia during a political rally. Erdogan has called for bans on Twitter and Facebook, both of which have been overturned by Turkey's courts. Ozan Kose/AFP/Getty Images

Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan's attempts to restrict social media and Internet usage have been struck down for a second time by the country's highest court.

Turkey's Constitutional Court struck down a ban on video-sharing site YouTube in the country on Thursday, less than two months after the court ruled that Erdogan's Twitter ban was also against the law.

The May 29 ruling strikes down the blockade, which was imposed on March 27. The next step is for the Transportation and Communication Ministry and the Telecommunications Directorate (TIB) to implement the court's order. The ban had been appealed by YouTube, Turkish scholar Kerem Altıparmak, and President Metin Feyzioğlu of the Union of Turkey's Bar Associations.

The YouTube ban has contributed to large-scale demonstrations and protests about the government's increasingly restrictive policies. YouTube declined to comment for this story.

However, the TIB has said that it won't unblock YouTube because the site hosts "criminal content," reported the Turkish news site Hurriyet Daily News, referring to a leaked recording of a Turkish government security meeting on Syria. The TIB already has ignored an April 9 lower court ruling against the ban.

The high court cited Article 26 of the Turkish constitution when striking down the ban: "Everyone has the right to express and disseminate his or her thoughts and opinion by speech, in writing, pictures or through other media, individually or collectively," it reads.

Update at 4:32 p.m. PST with YouTube declining to comment.