In recent days, strange things have been happening with several other Google sites. They aren't quite blocked, but access to them has been slowed down to point of them not being usable. Google Maps, for example, is one of the victims. Turkish officials haven't really explained what's going on, but Turkey's transportation minister, also responsible for internet matters, hinted that there was some kind of tax dispute between Ankara and Google.
What's disturbing about the Google slowdown is that rather than by court order (like in the case of YouTube) this action is being done by Telecommunications Directorate, the government agency that monitors the Internet and which is allowed to shut down sites without a court order. A lawsuit in the matter has already been filed by a group of "media freedom activists" who want the Turkish government to lift its Google blockade. Today's Zaman columnist Beril Dedeoglu writes in Friday's paper about the cost of the slowdown to Turkey's e-commerce and tourism sector. Column here.
Obviously, there will be those wags out there who will somehow try to use the Google affair as further evidence that Turkey is "drifting east." This blog will not join them, except to say that liberally interpreting the rule of law and arbitrarily applying it, as well as thuggishly depriving a country's population access to important knowledge-based services to prove a point in a tax dispute, does certainly smack of some kind of drift, eastward or other.