As everyone’s attention was directed to the Paris attacks, in the east Reddit was banned in Turkey over the weekend. The ban restricted Turkish users from accessing the website on November, 13 in the evening. The following day, the forum became accessible again. No explanation was given for either measures that were taken by the government.
The Turkish authorities used the Law No. 5651, which allows them to block various websites for various reasons such as pornography, terrorism threats or piracy. Since 2007, Turkish Telecoms Authority otherwise known as TIB, has the power to block content on the Internet or websites without receiving authorisation from the government. This is exactly what happened this time, but no explanations were given whatsoever.
In 2014 the censorship laws for Internet were expanded in Turkey, which led to street protests in both Istanbul and Ankara, the country’s largest cities. The laws which were adopted in 2014 also gave TIB the power to blocks websites in a mere four hours.
The censorship law was heavily criticized by the Human Rights Watch, which stressed out Turkey’s history of restricting free expression of online users. The group also stated that the Turkish authorities have blocked a huge number of websites by using the 5651 censoring law.
Reddit has also taken measures for censorship, as it introduced censoring communities and posts for each country in August this year. For example, in Russia the posts in r/rudrugs are not accessible, while in Germany users are banned from viewing r/WatchPeopleDie.
A spokesperson for Reddit confirmed that they want to make content available to everyone, but they reserve the right of restricting content to certain countries if asked so by authorized entities. He also argued that in the light of Reddit growing globally, the company will attempt to add transparency and streamline to the process.
Having this account into perspective, it comes as no surprise that Reddit was banned in Turkey over the weekend. What remains curious whatsoever is that it lasted for such a short period of time. Hopefully the Turkish people will be given the reasons for the measures that were taken, so they will understand what happens when such actions will be taken for a longer period of time in the future.
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