Writes Ed Krayewski for Reason:
The Turkish government appears to be blocking access to social media networks and messaging apps like Facebook, Twitter, and WhatsApp in the aftermath of the assassination of the Russian ambassador to Turkey, Turkey Blocksreports.
The monitoring network says it had detected “severe slowdowns affecting Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and WhatsApp for some, but not all, internet users in Turkey” between last night and this morning. As The Telegraph notes, it’s not the first time the censor-happy government of Turkey has restricted access to social media following an incident.
The Turkish government had already recently banned the use of Tor and other virtual private networks, which allow internet users a measure of privacy, and, according to Turkey Blocks, deployed sophisticated blocking tools to prevent the use of VPNs. “All these stringent measures could make Turkey’s digital world resemble China’s regulations,” Turkey Block‘s Angel Diaz writes.
The government of Turkey has been working to improve its ability to censor information on the internet for years, using any excuse, from mass arrests to attempted to coups, to crack down on internet use. After the coup earlier this year, the Turkish government dismissed the European Union’s “red line” on freedom of the press, cracking down on opposition outlets and tightening its control over media.
Respected tech journalist Larry Loeb explains Turkey’s ongoing censorship in Security Intelligence. He points out that Turkey began blocking the Tor Network on December 12.
The Turkish government already has a rocky relationship with social media. It banned Twitter when it was discovered that students were using it to organize protests, Bleeping Computer noted. Since that time, the government has banned or seized control of other major social media outlets.
For example, in 2014, Turkey blocked both Twitter and YouTube when the services hosted an audio file containing the then-prime minister directing his son to hide a large amount of cash before being investigated by the police.
Turkey also blocked access to Dropbox, Microsoft OneDrive and GitHub in October of this year, and went on in November to ban to Facebook, WhatsApp, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram again. Now it’s Tor’s turn in the barrel.
It’s easy to be skeptical anything Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdogan does and says. The New York Times reported that 120 journalists are still jailed in Turkey after the July failed coup attempt. His recent moves toward Russia and Iran and away from the west hasn’t been lost on anyone and knows that all his own citizens aren’t on board with that. A free press and free flow of ideas must be a threat to him. And he knows that Russia and Iran will help him.