I’ve just returned from Istanbul. With the exception of the tragic terrorist attack on our consulate, I had a great trip. Not only did I get to visit incredible cultural landmarks like the Hagia Sofia and the Blue Mosque, but I also got to experience first-hand what Internet censorship is like. (geeky, I know).
Here’s what happened. Not long after checking into my hotel, I fired up my laptop and connected to the Internet. Waiting in my e-mail inbox was a YouTube link a friend had sent me linking to some remarks made by one of the U.S. hostages that was recently rescued in Colombia. After waiting about 3 minutes for the page to load, I got a network timeout notice. I hit refresh on my browser to try and get the page to load. Nothing. Finally, after about 15 minutes of trying to get to the video I gave up. Here’s a screencap I took of the error message:
Suspecting that something was up, I did a Google search for “YouTube Turkey.” It didn’t take long to figure out what was going on. Turns out, Turkish authorities have blocked access to the site. The Turkish government took this action after some controversial videos emerged on the video sharing site. According to the Times Online:
[A] court order was issued yesterday and most internet users logging onto the site in Turkey are met with a holding page with a Turkish message, which translates as: “Access to this site has been denied by court order ! …”.
Greek and Turkish YouTube users have been trading video insults over the past few months, attracting much coverage in the Turkish press. Greek videos reportedly accused the founding president of the Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, of homosexuality; a Turkish user responded by calling Greece the birthplace of homosexuality.
Pretty interesting stuff. Being back on U.S. soil, I can’t help but to wonder if anything like that can ever happen here. If we’re not careful, I think it can. Just yesterday, the FCC recommended sanctions be placed on Comcast after it was discovered that the ISP was blocking some peer-to-peer internet traffic. A good move by the FCC. Hopefully, this will fuel the fire for meaningful net neutrality legislation in Congress.
Enough of the geeky stuff. Here are some photos I took during my visit. Enjoy.