As of a few hours ago, there’s a new VPN ban in Turkey. Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority has issued an order to Turkish Internet service providers (ISPs) telling them to institute a VPN ban. Many Turkish internet users were using VPNs to access social media platforms after Twitter, Facebook, and Youtube were blocked last night amid ongoing military operations and political unrest, according to Turkey Blocks. In addition to attempting to ban connections to VPN services, Turkish ISPs are also blocking access to VPN homepages as well as the Tor project homepage.
Private Internet Access still works in Turkey.
After the initial social media blocks early morning on 11/04/16, many users turned to VPNs to continue using social media. Some users that were already connected via VPN and proxy options noticed that their connection stopped working some 24 hours into the social media ban.
My VPN services have stopped working. Can anybody else confirm if there's some sort of VPN blocking going on? #Turkey (Using Tor right now)
— NightOwl (@Javissko) November 4, 2016
Turkish government requests VPN ban
One Turkish tech media site, Turk-Internet pointed out that the Turkish government’s request specifically called out many popular VPN companies while leaving out smaller ones, and might be meant to encourage Turkish activists to use insecure VPN services which are under Turkish surveillance. They also pointed out that business’s VPN needs might force the Turkish government to relinquish their VPN ban within days.
— ilhan tanir (@WashingtonPoint) November 4, 2016
A VPN ban is the definition of Internet Censorship
Internet censorship is a very real concern in today’s world. Whether the block occurs on just a few sites, just a few porn sites, or just a few topics, it is the beginning of a slippery slope. Just like with mass surveillance, starting means you are on a race to the bottom where there are no winners. Just 24 hours ago, Turkey blocked WhatsApp for the first time; now, they have issued the order to block over a dozen VPN services and the Tor Project. Whether that is even feasible remains to be seen. It is unlikely that Turkey has a technically sophisticated firewall like the Great Firewall of China. Just the mere act of trying to ban VPNs and Tor reveals beyond a doubt the lack of technical knowledge in the current Turkish regime.