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Turkey drops Twitter takedown following court order

Let a thousand tweets bloom
Fri Apr 04 2014, 09:59
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TURKEY HAS LIFTED the curtain that it placed around the microblogging service Twitter.

The block was lifted after the Turkish constitutional court ruled that it was against basic human rights in the country and reminded the country's telecoms regulator of that fact.

Turkey's telecoms regulator accepted this, and dropped the block. However this did not please Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan, who had ordered the social chat service blocked.

"We complied with the ruling but I do not respect it," Erdogan said at a press conference attended by Reuters. "It should have been rejected on procedural grounds."

Twitter, which had legally challenged the block, welcomed the return to service.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is also pleased to see the ban lifted, but remains concerned about Turkey's hard line on communications.

"While we are happy to see that the court ruling has been respected and the blocking reversed, the ban on YouTube - as well as hundreds of other sites - remains in effect," said Jillian York, director for international freedom of expression at EFF.

"We stand with our allies in Turkey in calling for a free and open Internet in Turkey and everywhere."

Turkey shut down access to social networks Twitter and Youtube in stages. Google accused Turkish ISPs of hijacking its domain name services, and the European Commission condemned the move.

Turkish newspaper Hurriyet Daily News reported that the constitutional court sided with the Turkish public following challenges to the block and ruled that the ban violates free speech, a right that is protected in the country by Article 26 of the Constitution of The Republic Of Turkey.

That section says that "everyone has the right to express and disseminate his thoughts and opinion by speech, in writing or in pictures or through other media, individually or collectively".

The court quickly sent its ruling to Telecommunications Directorate (TİB) and Turkey's Transport, Maritime and Communication Ministry.

Metin Feyzioğlu, the president of the Turkish Bar Association (TBB), told the paper that if the ruling was ignored by TIB, then the next stage would be a criminal complaint.

"If they don't abide by the ruling, we will file a criminal complaint against the TİB by attaching the ruling of the Constitutional Court," he said. It appears that the PM's government wanted to avoid this attention.

Turkish access to Twitter was shut down on 20 March, just after Turkish prime minister Tayyip Erdogan denounced it. He and his government had been criticised by reports of corruption in the run-up to local elections. The blocks on Twitter and Youtube went up over the following ten days. µ


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