YouTube Opens Turkish Site, Government Triumphant

YouTube adds Turkish localization, Google announcedTR with a short statement in the company’s Turkish blog. Users who access the video sharing site from Turkey can now navigate the site in Turkish, and receive recommendations based on local trends. Minister of Transport, Maritime Affairs and Communications Binalı Yıldırım, who fought for years to establish greater control over the search giant, was extremely jubilant in receiving the news, and reported what he saw as his victory on his personal siteTR and the Ministry’s official web pageTR.

This makes Turkey the 47th country to get a local web domain with YouTube. Google announced that the next development in line is to get content providers to generate income over the video sharing service. However, the bleak statement provided no further information and made no mention of Google’s dispute with the Turkish government.

Turkey censored all access to YouTube for 2 years back in 2008 over a politically incorrect—yet absolutely inane—video, while the entire argument and justification by government officials revolved around the lack of an accountable, and taxable, Google presence in Turkey. During the 2-year-long war, Turkey intermittently blocked access to several key Google services and addresses, and the American company prolonged the debacle by refusing to acknowledge the court orders in Turkey. At one point, the furious Communications Minister Yıldırım exclaimedTR: “Will Google run this country?”

Yıldırım commented on Google’s move in a press conference held to announce the 500th anniversary of the world map by the Ottoman admiral Piri Reis. “Some establishments turned a deaf ear to us, saying ‘we are global, we have huge income, we are big’ while ignoring us,” said Yıldırım in a lapse of ministerial dignity, and continued, “but when they felt the pressure, so to speak…” Pausing mid-sentence, Yıldırım reverted to jingoism. “If you are operating in this country, whatever you are, even if you are the best at what you do; you must abide by this country’s rules. There is no other way. There is no country greater than the Republic of Turkey!”

He did not seem very excited about the income opportunity for Turkish content providers, or what YouTube should do in order to abide by the new Turkish copyright law, but he was content to have Google within his reach. “It will now be in a binding and critical position to implement court decisions and remove any objectionable publications,” Yıldırım said. “Furthermore, it will also pay taxes on its operations.”

“Google does pay the taxes in Turkey that it is required to pay by law. It is the same in every country in which we operate,” a YouTube spokeswoman said, according to Reuters. She also reported that users with a Turkish IP address would automatically be redirected to the new ‘youtube.com.tr’ domain; and if Turkey had a valid court order banning a particular video, access to that content would be blocked.

Only last week did we mention the current administration’s juggling of censorship and taxes as a dangerous curiosity of the past, which the Apple Maps blunder may resurrect. Between the Treasury’s lust after Apple taxes, Apple’s impending Turkish presence, the dark legal clouds that are sure to hang over Apple Maps, and the sinister glee with which Google is greeted, this might not be the final curtain in this drama.

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