Tor Usage Soars in Turkey Following the Government’s Attempted Twitter Ban

The Net interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.
– John Gilmore

We’ve already seen authoritarian governments lash out against Twitter in the recent pasti Most notably, last May when the Saudi “religious police chief” stated that “anyone using social media sites – and especially Twitter – “has lost this world and his afterlife”. You can read my article on the absurd incident here if you missed it. 

Last week, Turkey joined the list of Twitter haters amongst government, and attempted to ban the social media service. So what did the citizens of Turkey do? As John Gilmore predicted in 1993, they interpreted the censorship as damage and routed around it. From The Washington Post:

At first the Twitter ban was relatively easy to circumvent and quickly backfired asTwitter exploded with activity in the country. Because most ISPs were implementing the ban by Domain Name System redirection, users could simply change their DNS server to rely on a public server outside the country who wasn’t engaging in the same misdirection. But on Saturday, researchers saw a shift in the way the block was implemented. Instead of DNS redirection, Twitter now appears to be blocked at the IP level.

But there are still a few ways to circumvent the ban, including using a Virtual Private Network to forge an encrypted tunnel outside of Turkey, using SMS (the method tweeted about by Twitter’s policy account near the beginning of blocking efforts), and Tor. Because the anonymous browsing tool reroutes users’ traffic through onion nodes throughout the world, it helps users bypass local censorship.

Here’s an image that demonstrates the recent surge in Tor usage:

Screen Shot 2014-03-24 at 11.26.01 AM

We saw something similar last summer, after the Snowden revelations first emerged. I covered it in the post: Tor Usage Doubles Globally in the Wake of Snowden Revelations.

Full Washington Post article here.

In Liberty and a Free Internet,
Michael Krieger

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Tor Usage Soars in Turkey Following the Government’s Attempted Twitter Ban originally appeared on A Lightning War for Liberty on March 24, 2014.

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