Written by Sheila Dahan
On March 20, Twitter was banned in Turkey by the order of the Turkish Government, owing to the dissemination of an audio clip about the corruption of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan via Twitter. The authorities inundated Twitter with hundreds of court rulings ordering them to remove the content, but Twitter has yet to respond.
Twitter users reliant on local Internet providers who attempted to log onto Twitter were redirected to a page showing the court’s decision.
In response, users changed their DNS servers to international providers such as Google’s DNS service and OpenDNS. This appears to be a good method for bypassing the censorship. Following the ban, Twitter usage in Turkey increased 138%!
On March 22, the government blocked Twitter’s IP address in order to thwart those using international servers from accessing the site.
On March 29, Turk Telekom (The Turkish state-owned telecommunications company) started to hijack the IP addresses of popular free, open DNS providers, such as the Google 22.214.171.124, the OpenDNS 126.96.36.199 and the Level3 188.8.131.52., using the Border Gateway Protocol (BGP). This made Turkey the first country to ever block Google DNS. Google software engineer Steven Carstensen posted that “Turkish ISPs have set up servers that masquerade as Google’s DNS service.”
Turk Telekom’s hijacking of the IP addresses of popular DNS servers is a very worrying development because it may help the Turkish government to intercept traffic and spy on the Turkish population.
This recent Turkish Internet censorship has made the TOR browser, which protects users’ anonymity and privacy, a very popular tool inside Turkey. Take a look at the following statistics, and the number leap after the recent steps taken by the government: