Sunday, August 24, 2008

World Governments Target YouTube
Posted on: Tuesday, 11 March 2008, 12:00 CDT

Since its launch in February 2005, YouTube has been blocked or banned by a number of countries, among others China, Iran (and several other Middle East countries), Pakistan, Turkey, Burma and Brazil. The issue was highlighted in late February when Pakistan caused an international four-day outage in its most recent attempt to block the site. As can be expected, the reasons for banning the Google-owned video-sharing site vary from country to country.


Censorship for all reasons

The wide range of reasons advanced for blocking YouTube around the globe reveals how exposed it is to many agendas and vested interests.

Turkey has banned YouTube several times over insults to their founding father, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, or "insulting Turkishness" - a serious crime under the controversial Article 301 of the penal code. The Turkish Telecommunications Board is ordered by court order to block any site falling foul of this law. Turkish authorities claim it is not government censorship, but legal process. However, critics say the law is used to silence government critics.

In the United Arab Emirates, YouTube was blocked because it presented a seven-part documentary "Desert Nights", on the trafficking of Armenian women for the prostitution industry in Dubai. Ara Manoogian, the Armenian journalist who made the documentary (along with Edik Baghdasaryan), claimed in a blog (aramanoogian.blogspot) on 19 June 2006 that police and migration service officials in Dubai were involved in the prostitution racket. News site Hetq Online, which reported the claims, was also blocked.


Moral justification for censorship

University of Toronto-based Nart Villeneuve (, who monitors internet censorship, points out that, "It is often under the rubric of morality and public order and/or national security that internet censorship is framed by those who seek its implementation or seek to justify its ongoing practice. The practice of filtering ... is growing. Increasingly, it is not the practice of filtering that is being challenged, the debate is about what content is being filtered. In other words, how the practice of filtering is being framed is the location where ideas about censorship are being contested. China, for example, justifies its extensive internet filtering and surveillance systems by 'stressing repeatedly that Chinese internet minders abide strictly by laws and regulations that in some cases have been modelled on American and European statutes', Chinese official Liu Zhengrong told the New York Times."

Source: BBC Monitoring Media

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