Turkey hits at Google for `picking fight'

Financial Times, UK

By Delphine Strauss in Ankara
June 24 2010 22:46

Turkey's communications minister on Thursday hit at Google for
`picking a fight' with the Turkish state, as he responded to growing
criticism of web censorship that includes a long-standing ban on
Google's YouTube subsidiary.

Ankara insists that the online video-sharing site must open offices in
Turkey and register for tax purposes before it can expect any help in
reversing court bans that have kept the site officially off-limits for
Turkish users for more than two years.

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Jun-16..`This site has entered a fight with the Turkish Republic, but
Turkey will not accept this,' Binali Yildirim, minister for transport
and communications, told opposition deputies who questioned the

`In many countries this sharing site registers local sales, in Turkey
it doesn't.'

Mr Yildirim has been attacking Google for weeks, but Thursday's
language is by far the strongest he has used.

Google did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

But the attack follows a wave of complaints from Turkish web-users
after state efforts to enforce the ban more rigorously earlier this
month inadvertently disrupted other Google services, including some
that web businesses relied on.

YouTube's pariah status in Turkey stems not from its tax arrangements,
but from a law passed in 2007 giving judges power to ban websites that
insulted Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the modern state's architect.

YouTube fell foul of the judges on this count after Turkish and Greek
nationalists posted a series of abusive videos. The law also banned
sites that it said incited suicide, drug use, paedophilia, immorality
and illegal prostitution.

Turkish web-users have long found ways to circumvent the ban, and
YouTube regularly scores among the 10 most-visited sites in the

Temporary bans have affected many other sites, including the blogging
platform Wordpress and the trading site Alibaba.com, and the issue of
web censorship is breeding both bitter criticism and inventive parody.

One such parodist is the website millimotor.com - which translates
roughly as `national engine' - which pokes fun at Turkish nationalism
in general and ministers' calls for a national search engine to rival
Google in particular.

Type `Kurdish culture' into millimotor, and it suggests a link to
Ataturk's address to youth. Type the Turkish for `Armenian genocide',
and it responds: `Did you mean the so-called Armenian genocide?'

From: A. Papazian