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RIGHTS > YouTube ban a heavy intervention into freedom of expression: Top Turkish court

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Banning access to YouTube constitutes a “heavy intervention into the freedom of expression of all users,” Turkey’s Constitutional Court has said in its detailed ruling, while underlining that social media is a transparent platform enabling communication.

“It is understood that the intervention intended to completely block access to YouTube has no sufficiently clear or distinct legal basis. In this regard, it has no quality of predictability for applicants,” the Court stated in its detailed ruling published in the Official Gazette on June 6.

“That’s why there is a need to rule that the said administrative operation - which was characteristic of a heavy intervention into the freedom of expression of all users who benefit from the site - violated the applicants’ freedom of expression, which is protected in Article 26 of the Constitution,” the ruling, dated May 29, added.

The ruling was made by the 17-member General Assembly of the Constitution Court. Two members objected the ruling on the grounds that applicants had appealed to the Constitutional Court without exhausting administrative legal means.

However, agreeing with the majority ruling, the two members - Deputy President Serruh Kaleli and one other - also noted that “freedom of communication was also violated,” in addition to freedom of expression.

“Social media, including YouTube, is a transparent platform that gives the opportunity for individual participation in the form of composing and commenting on media content where mutual communication is built,” the Court’s ruling also stated.

The ruling came after three separate appeals against the YouTube ban, which was imposed on March 27 without a court decision. One of the applications was filed by the company itself, while the others were filed by Union of Turkey’s Bar Associations (TBB) President Metin Feyzioğlu and academic Kerem Altıparmak.

Turkish authorities finally restored access to YouTube on June 3, five days after the Constitutional Court’s ruling concerning the two-month ban.

June/06/2014

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