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Turkish Finance Minister Defends Twitter Ban 94

An anonymous reader writes "Turkish Finance Minister Mehmet Simsek has defended his governments ban on Twitter and accused the social networking site of not complying with court orders. Simsek said: 'The Turkish telecommunications watchdog has made a number of statements saying that they have asked Twitter on a number of occasions to remove some content on the back of court orders and Twitter has been refusing to comply. I don’t think any global company, whether it’s a media company, whether it’s an industrial company, it shouldn’t see itself [as being] above the law.'" As a result of the ban, Tor gained over 10,000 new users in Turkey.
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Turkish Finance Minister Defends Twitter Ban

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  • Above the law (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fustakrakich ( 1673220 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @11:39AM (#46564163) Journal

    Everybody is above corrupt law.

    • In other news, Turkish government is defending Dehomag for their lawful activities. ;-)
    • by MickyTheIdiot ( 1032226 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @12:12PM (#46564503) Homepage Journal

      It's interesting that this tactic has failed in every case going all the way back to the start of the printing press. If you make some sort of communication form illegal it just gets distributed more widely.

      It tells you something about the caliber of people that get into office, doesn't it?

      • It tells you something about the caliber of people that get into office, doesn't it?

        It tells me more about who put them there. The office holder is just following orders.

      • by bentcd ( 690786 )

        It's interesting that this tactic has failed in every case going all the way back to the start of the printing press. If you make some sort of communication form illegal it just gets distributed more widely.

        You can't really know this though. Those times when it does succeed (if ever) you won't have heard about, that is the whole point, and so you won't know that it happened. It will therefore seem like it never works even if quite often it does, and you wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a world in which suppression never works and a world in which it often does.

    • Well, when everybody corrupt is above the law, it is only fair that everyone else is also above the corrupt law.

    • Re:Above the law (Score:5, Informative)

      by Frobnicator ( 565869 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @03:29PM (#46566707) Journal

      Several countries have attempted to ban YouTube, Twitter, and similar sites. Most end up removing the ban within days. Some remove it within months.

      Turkey is one of the countries that maintained a ban longer than most countries, with the YouTube ban lasting about 29 months. Wikipedia says that even with the ban, it was reported as Turkey's 8th most popular web site while DNS blocks were in place and government officials (including the prime minister and president, both the same people in power today) publicly discussed that they continued to use the banned site. Quite a few other web sites are banned as well, yet they still have a strong Turkish user base.

      Turkey has a history of banning the interwebz through DNS blocks, and the people know how to get around it easily.

      • It was reported (yesterday?) that Turkey has also starting IP banning Twitter. Citizens must now use tunnels (VPN, Tor, etc) to get to it.
    • as much as I agree.

      if google, twitter, or another company refused the NSA, or an American court order, especially one of those secret letters would you feel the same way?

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 24, 2014 @11:40AM (#46564173)

    It's based in the US. It's governed by US law, not Turkish law. Italy had a similar opinion and convicted three Google employees in absentia to no effect.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And that's exactly why the internet should not be governed by one country, and internet should fall under an independent law.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        As long as there is a governing body there is going to be a set of standards set in place as to content. Either we're going to have everyone having a say which means anything more controversial than a recipe for toast is going to get shouted down or you're going to have elements on the internet that any sane person wouldn't wish on their worst enemy.
        No matter what you do there's going to be problems.

        • by Anonymous Coward

          or you're going to have elements on the internet that any sane person wouldn't wish on their worst enemy.

          Since all censorship is intolerable, that would be just fine by me.

      • Opposite Result (Score:5, Insightful)

        by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @12:49PM (#46564899)

        And that's exactly why the internet should not be governed by one country

        The problem with that statement is, when you don't have a single entity governing with reasonable protection of free speech (like the U.S.) the alternative is a U.N. like panel stacked with all sorts of countries that all think it's perfectly reasonable to censor some speech.

        Having an "independent law" in reality means Turkey has MORE of a say, not less, in what that independent law states about what Turkey can tell Twitter to do.

        • Right. Kinda like giving people democracy and then being upset with how the results turned out. Hello, Hamas!
          • by hazah ( 807503 )
            Democracy, and The spirit of it, are two differing entities in the wild. Democracies was conceived with the notion of an informed voting populous. This is hardly the case in modern times.
            • by hazah ( 807503 )
        • What's wrong with the U.N.? You some kind of Tea Party asshole? The world would be a better place if the U.N. actually had teeth and could enforce its laws.
          • Enforce what laws? If the UN is primarily about massive human rights abuses in China, or Russia, or other countries being rubber-stamped by U.N. panels.

            Or U.N. Soldiers setting up brothels with underage girls as they do in Africa. That's a great result of the meeting of nations!

            Pretty funny to complain about U.N. enforcement of laws when so many local laws are broken by U.N. members...

      • ...independent law

        I don't believe such a thing exists. And I certainly hope you don't mean the League of Nations. Everybody already knows what that would lead to.

      • What, so we can be forced to remove every statement that can be interpreted as being anti-Islam from the Internet for everyone? No thanks.

        If you want to be stupid and block stuff in your own country, fine, but leave me out of it.

    • by Anonymous Coward
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      And Megaupload was not based in the US or NZ. So?

  • by schneidafunk ( 795759 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @11:42AM (#46564193)

    I wasn't sure if Twitter was banned in China and had to look it up. Indeed it is, along with North Korea and Iran. []

  • by Anonymous Coward

    We call it law, but actually they are purely interests (that need to be covered by some law to make it "legal")
    We call it democracy, but actually it is consumerism/corporationalism/populism
    We call it freedom, but nobody knows anymore what it is, after all those redefinitions.

    Therefore I love all the comments on Turkey's government being bad, while we live under the same shit.

    • Agreed.

      And besides, Twitter may be hosted in the US, if they want to do some business in Turkey, they have to obey to turkish laws - or risk a ban. The government filtering does the right thing : remove most of the traffic which makes it a (potentially) profitable company.

      The fact that the court order is good or bad has little to do here. If some court decided that a message is illegal (harassing, threatening, racist, ...), Twitter has little right to decide if they agree or not if they want to make some bu

    • by pla ( 258480 )
      For all the hypocrites who modded the parent a troll...

      How's your USENet feed working these days?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Quila ( 201335 )

      Therefore I love all the comments on Turkey's government being bad, while we live under the same shit.

      Tell me when you can get arrested in the US for reminding your people of a well-known US historical event, and you will start having equivalence.

  • The issue is that laws mandating censorship run counter to the purposes of freedom and democracy. This minister is trying to shift the focus from the second to the first, and it nearly worked on me too because my first thought was "why should youtube care about Turkish law?" but that's completely irrelevant.

    • Censorship is a very relative concept. There is no such thing as "free speech". In every country, there are laws against harassment, racism, libeling, that can make what you say (or tweet) illegal.

      Now, what makes the US laws better than the Turkish laws ? If they decide some message is illegal, they are perfectly sovereign in preventing people from viewing it.

      You can call for freedom and democracy if you have proofs (or arguments) showing that the court decision was not taken in a democratic way.

      • Well, obviously a lot of Turks don't agree with their government's idea of "legal". Makes you wonder who is right, the government or the people? And even more whether, if there is a difference between the will of government and people, whether the censorship is democratically justified.

        • "Well, obviously a lot of Turks don't agree with their government's idea of "legal".

          Not to mention that they still occupy Northern Cyprus since 1974.
          Both of them Nato members and Cyprus actually being in the EU.

          They Cypriots don't understand what's so special about the Crimea.

          • Well, pretty much all of Europe doesn't really get what's so special about splitting an island apart when both nations bickering about it want to be in the same Union.

      • Question:

        Now, what makes the US laws better than the Turkish laws ?

        Answer: The fact that US law doesn't allow for censoring of the views of political opponents by the government, whereas new Turkish laws have just provided the means for that.

        Moreover: Court decisions are not always taken in a democratic way, you are mixing up jurisdiction with legislation. And not all laws that get passed by the legislative in every country are democratic either. Laws themselves are only democratic if they are based on democratic principles. Finally, censorship is not a relative c

      • There is a difference between certain speech being illegal and speech being censored. Illegal means that the person saying something can be arrested and tried in court. Censorship goes much further and bans other people or seeing/hearing it.

    • by Godai ( 104143 ) * on Monday March 24, 2014 @12:48PM (#46564889)

      Actually, I disagree. Compliance with the law is the heart of the problem, the question is: whose law?

      While I'm no fan Turkey's repressive laws, I do wonder how what Turkey is mad about differs all that much from the US or whomever complaining about pirated content being posted in countries where that's not illegal.

      If country A does something we don't agree with, it's okay for technology to circumvent that. If country B does something we don't agree with, it's not okay for technology to circumvent that. The bottom line here seems to be less about technology and more: in a globally interconnected world, how do we decide what laws get applied where? So far it largely seems to be decided by the US leaning on anyone they don't agree with. You can bet if the positions were reversed, Turkey would be leaning on the US government to discipline Twitter. This works great if its something you agree with, and less so when its something you don't (maybe copyright laws). I could say we're fortunate that its the US with the Big Stick and not someone else, but maybe we only think that because we're in the West so we tend to align with our own values? And even if this works great, what happens when someone else takes possession of the Big Stick (China maybe?). Perhaps this won't be so appealing then?

      • The situation in Turkey is not just another free speech banning law, making law maker and enforcers looking ridiculous. Not at all. There is a mindbogglingly huge corruption scandal going on. The prosecutors were removed from the case, police were ordered not to obey court orders, tens of thousands of civil servants have been relocated etc to stop the investigation. The extend and the number are both unbelievable, so I will leave it to look them up yourself (you would never believe an anonymous source on internet talking about 12 digits, would you?)

        Now, when it became apparent that the prime minister had no intention to actually let courts do their job, the prosecutors (quite unlawfully) started leaking dozens of voice recordings of their evidence. So far we have learned that Mr. Prime Minister ordering newspapers what not to press, ordering his son to move hundreds of millions of dollars from his house, selling valuable land to his friendly businessmen, using tax law to crush unfriendly businessmen, ordering the police to increase tension during Gezi movement etc. Tomorrow is the big day. It is said that the PM will not be able to keep his post no matter what after the recording posted on 25th of March. The leaked tapes so far has been uncovered PM's behavior so unconstitutional and immoral that I cannot image what could possibly be so much bigger. The expectation is that either PM's ordering assassination of a opposition leader or he having sex with a minor. Whatever it is, it got PM panicked. This is what got actually twitter banned. There is a cover story, but it is so hastily constructed that *the cover story itself is unlawful.* The story is that a court banned twitter on for not complying, a court which is not authorized to do so, and a court which denies doing/trying to do so.

        So whatever your ideas on different lands having different customs and laws, this is not the event to discuss them. Twitter ban in Turkey is 100% wrong.

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Says the minister of a government, who changed duty of about 5000 police right after a corruption operation. There are tapes of government members and PM himself circulating on the internet, where they freely change "The" Law for their own benefit. I think Twitter should have just changed their logo to a middle finger for IP block of Turkey.
  • by bill_mcgonigle ( 4333 ) * on Monday March 24, 2014 @11:59AM (#46564375) Homepage Journal

    Coincidentally, the pro-government media just happened to have its cameras pointed at the spot [] where a Syrian jet would invade Turkish airspace yesterday and get shot down with a 'satisfying' plume of black smoke.

    If somebody has that list of 'steps to totalitarianism' handy, please link it. "Convince the people of an outside threat" is pretty close to the top.

  • by Entropius ( 188861 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @12:31PM (#46564693)

    "Okay, we'll stop our users from calling your government a poopyhead, or whatever. In return? Don't let Russian-flagged ships through the Bosphorus until they leave Crimea."

  • by korbulon ( 2792438 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @12:41PM (#46564815)
    Turkey to create an alternative social messaging service: gonna call it "Gobbler".
  • How comical - "Twitter, obey us! We have this court order we scribbled on a sandwich napkin! And while you're at it, shut your doors and grovel at our feet!"
  • Deja Vu (Again) (Score:5, Interesting)

    by trydk ( 930014 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @01:02PM (#46565023)
    Interesting debate. Not new, but still interesting.

    If Twitter does not comply with Turkish law, it is considered natural, since Twitter is based in the US of A and thus not governed by Turkish law. When BETonSPORTS [] did not comply with American law, their CEO, David Carruthers [] was arrested in 2006 when in transit to Costa Rica and the following year, founder Gary Kaplan [] was arrested in the Dominican Republic and extradited to USA — all this despite BETonSPORTS was based in the UK and thus not governed by American law.

    Tsch, tsch!
    • That's because neither of those countries could withstand the political pressure of the US. But what bad could possibly come out of not bending over to some old, megalomaniac Turkish jerk?

    • It is also wholly within Turkey's right to put out arrest for Dick Costolo (Twitter's CEO) and demand his extradition to be tried under Turkish law on what Twitter has done for Turkish residents.

  • It's always hilarious to see some old men with their heads stuck in an outdated concept of "power" and their own delusions of grandeur try to squelch information they don't like.

    Dear idiots: It means jack to block something on the internet. Your powers stop at the borders of your country. Within, you can be all the tinpot dictator you want to be, provided your subjects are stupid enough to let you. Outside, your opinion means jack. Zip. Nada. I know it's a bitter pill to swallow for little Napoleons like yo

  • Tor not that popular (Score:4, Interesting)

    by IamTheRealMike ( 537420 ) on Monday March 24, 2014 @01:30PM (#46565307)

    Tor added 10,000 users which for a country the size of Turkey is lost in the noise. Meanwhile a commercial competitor, HotSpot Shield [] added about quarter of a million Turkish users in just 12 hours. It'd be nice if the Tor guys made a version that relaxed some of the ultra-paranoid things they do and made a single-hop proxying service for users who don't care much about anonymity and just want to evade censorship.

  • If someone is running a site out of their own country and US citizens are breaking US law by using said site, the owner of the site is punished by the US law. If its a US citizen owned website running something that is made illegal in another country then its ok because it spreading democracy or some shit like that?

  • Except they're an American company so they actually should see themselves above some stupid dictatorship bullshit human rights violation laws.

"If you lived today as if it were your last, you'd buy up a box of rockets and fire them all off, wouldn't you?" -- Garrison Keillor