Reporters Without Borders recently published a report titled “Enemies of the Internet.” While Turkey was not on that list, the country was ranked 154 in the World Press Freedom Index mainly because dozens of journalists have been arrested as “threats to national security.” In a move that should add Turkey to the list of “Enemies of the Internet” a Turkish court attempted to ban the use of Twitter after Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan’s defiant vow to “wipe out” the social media service.
The official Twitter feed posted a tweet reading “We stand with our users in Turkey who rely on Twitter as a vital communications platform. We hope to have full access returned soon.”
According to Reuters, it didn’t take long for “Tech-savvy Turks… to circumvent the ban with the hashtag #TwitterisblockedinTurkey among the top [of what was] trending globally on Friday.
Turkey’s main opposition party said it would challenge the ban and file a criminal complaint against Erdogan on the grounds of violating personal freedoms.”
The Irish Times reports that Twitter actually “sent out mobile numbers that allowed Turkish consumers to keep using its service,” adding, “In another technical fix against the ban, Turkish downloads of Hotspot Shield, the world’s most popular virtual private network service, rose to 270,000 on Friday – from a daily average of 7,000.”
Of course, Turkey isn’t the first country to attempt to ban the use of Twitter; China, Iran & North Korea also officially ban the use of the social network, though some users have found ways around all of these bans.
All of these bans, in addition to NSA snooping, have shown that people will always find ways to get around blocks and spying. One of the easiest and most popular methods of getting around these blocks is the use of a virtual private network. Another method that is not quite as popular, or as easy, is the use of the TOR network. TOR, which stands for The Onion Router, “is a network of virtual tunnels that allows people and groups to improve their privacy and security on the Internet.” The TOR Project adds, “Journalists use Tor to communicate more safely with whistleblowers. Non-governmental organizations (NGOs) use Tor to allow their workers to connect to their home website while they’re in a foreign country, without notifying everybody nearby that they’re working with that organization.
Groups such as Indymedia recommend Tor for safeguarding their members’ online privacy and security. Activist groups like the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) recommend Tor as a mechanism for maintaining civil liberties online.”
As long as governments try to block various aspects of the internet, people will find ways around these blocks; and I encourage people to take steps to protect their privacy and their liberties online.