Google’s YouTube finally swayed to Turkey’s demand to subject the popular website to the country’s current taxes and content regulations. The video sharing site will now operate under a local domain “com.tr” in Turkey.
Reuters reported that Turkey had been working with YouTube for this deal for some time now.
Turkish Transport the Communications Minister Binali Yildirim announced: “This is an important development. For a long time we have made a call to Internet firms in Turkey: ‘You are operating in this country, you must be resident here.'”
YouTube is now expected to abide by the country’s strict content monitoring across the country now that it has become a resident of Turkey.
“It will now be in a binding and critical position to implement court decisions and remove any objectionable publications,” Yildirim told Reuters.
YouTube also confirmed the deal with Turkish government by saying in its blog: “Now, if you set Turkey as your location, you’ll get a Turkish-language experience with great, locally relevant content–including recommended channels and videos. We’re looking forward to the ways in which video-loving Turks of all ages will bring their culture to YouTube as they connect with one another, share ideas, and find new audiences.”
Turkey is but one of other countries that showed their less-than-friendly attitude towards YouTube. There are 46 countries other than Turkey around the world with local domains of the most popular video-sharing site like Egypt, France, Indonesia, Yemen, and Peru.
The relationship between YouTube and Turkey had not been harmonious in the past. The website was blocked in the country for almost two years since 2008 after it decided not to remove a video insulting the country’s founder Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. The ban was lifted in 2010 when YouTube finally removed the offending video.
As violent protests around the world heightened after the poorly-made “Innocence of Muslims” video trailer depicting prophet Mohammed was shown, local courts also ordered YouTube to intervene by blocking it. The removal of the video is much smoother in Turkey now that the site has been registered as a resident.
“Now, as soon as the court makes its decision, all the demands will be carried out immediately,” Yildirim said.
Some other countries prefer to deal with the website directly due to the surge in violence following the trailer’s publication. Iran blocked YouTube’s parent site, Google, altogether last week while Brazil decided to issue a warrant to arrest the site’s local chief executive and warned the website that it would be blocked if the said videos will not be removed. Pakistan blocked YouTube in the country when the website opted not to remove the video clip.
In 2010, Turkey has been placed on a list of “countries under surveillance” by Reporters sans Frontieres, urging the government there to safeguard freedom of expression. The country currently bans several thousand websites.
There had been calls for reforms for Turkish Internet laws from rights groups. The country cites violations like child pornography and offending videos as justifications to block websites. Turkish users can bypass the country’s filter systems by using proxy servers, however.