Internet Ban in Turkey Intensifies as Turkish Government Furthers Blockage Attempts

It’s hard to keep up with the latest news on the Turkish Internet ban. Not long ago, we covered a story on the Twitter ban that caught many Turkish residents by surprise.

Basically, the Prime Minister of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan made it known that he planned to block out the Twitter network, with the blockage taking effect early into March 21.

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Photo: Cyprus Mail

The public statement came a mere 12 hours before the actual blockage. Meaning, some woke up to hear about the statement and to find out about the block – maybe just in the opposite order.

Turkey’s Prime Minister made a very powerful statement. To put it into nicer words, the Turkish Republic has a court order allowing them to remove Twitter to Turkish residents and the international opinion does not matter.

You can better feel for the disgust that Internet users in Turkey are feeling by reading the end of the Prime Minister’s statement, where he stated that “Everyone will witness the power of the Turkish Republic.”

Further steps to block Twitter were made by taking it to the level of the Internet service provider, preventing visitors from accessing the Twitter URL at all. Instead of reaching the social media site, Turkish residents ended up at a statement page that went over the details of the situation and verifying that court orders permitted the Turkish Republic to block out Twitter access.

Interestingly enough, the Turkish President Abdullah Gul published a tweet after the block took place. He put his opinion out to the public, stating that an individual cannot allow for the entire closing of a social media platform. He also mentioned that an individual should only be able to shelter access to specific pages through the means of a court order – further, the block should only take place if personal privacy is at risk.

The Prime Minister has made it known that he views social media as being a menace to society. Many will side with him on that claim, but the truth is that he should not have the power to make it a fact for an entire nation.

But he does. The power of the Turkish Republic moves on. We can only watch it play out at this time, but hopefully appeals will fix this mess in the future but with the Twitter ban ruled unlawful by a Turkish court recently, things are getting interesting.

The YouTube Ban

For now, the most recent topic is the YouTube ban.

Interestingly, YouTube was banned in Turkey in 2007, but it only lasted for a few years.

The YouTube ban is still a developing story. Some users are claiming that they can still access the video streaming website, while the majority are already affected by the blockage.

This is where things get even more interesting…

The YouTube ban did not surface in the same light as the Twitter ban. It was almost a matter of coincidence. Better worded, it was a chain of events.

The Twitter ban was thought out and planned. The YouTube ban came due to an issue of national security in Turkey. This surfaced because voice recordings were uploaded to YouTube, which came with a villainous tone. These recordings featured senior officials in talks with each other about Syria and a prospective military operation.

Of course, Turkish government officials made it clear that further social media blockage will take place if any threats towards national security is made.

This creates a conspiracy theory: what if it’s a scapegoat, a way to take the blame away from the Turkish government and to justify all the website bans?

Turkish Residents Finding Ways Around The Bans

Here’s where things get a little interesting. Internet piracy is a crime that many do not sway away from committing. So obviously people will be quick to act on their Internet freedom, even if their country’s government tries to take it away.

A partial local DNS attack was made on Twitter.com to block out access from Turkish visitors. This is the same preliminary step taken in the YouTube ban on March 27th. Visitors were able to avoid the DNS poisoning by using DNS’s from different countries.

This was a viable approach until just March 29th, when methods for obtaining workable IP addresses got more difficult. This is due to TurkTelecom hijacking the DNS servers of Google and Level 3, making it so that visitors requesting YouTube’s address through a Google DNS server will receive the IP address for one of the Turkish government websites, which goes into detail on the ban.

Swift, but there is no doubt that Turkish visitors will continue to find workaround methods to make sure that they can freely access the websites they like to use. The next way that visitors are likely to access these websites is through a virtual private network (or VPN). A VPN only costs a couple dollars a month and it can completely bypass the horrid Internet bans in Turkey.