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Nov 21, 2016

Social Media and Internet Ban in Turkey

Following the detainment of 12 pro-Kurdish lawmakers from the Peoples’ Democratic Party (HDP) in the early hours of November 4th, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, WhatsApp and Skype were blocked in Turkey. There were reports that Turk Telekom internet provider completely disabled access to the internet or throttled the connection to the point that it was impossible to connect.

Despite lack of official decision about the restrictions, and BTK’s explanation that there was a technical problem throughout Turkey, Prime Minister Binali Yildirim made a statement later in the day and said “For security reasons, these kinds of measures can be taken time to time. These are temporary measures. Everything goes back to normal after the danger is eliminated.”

Social media and internet bans ended the following evening in most of the country, but there were still some short-term connection problems during the weekend in some regions, and it was reported that some Turk Telekom users did not have internet for longer periods.

On the same day, multiple local outlets reported that Turkey’s Information and Communication Technologies Authority (BTK) ordered internet providers in the country to block censorship circumvention tools, including Psiphon. Despite the rumor, Psiphon saw no indication that its services were affected negatively.

The BTK denied that circumvention tools were ordered blocked; however Ahment Arslan, the Minister of Transport, Maritime and Communication, said “We only restrict the use of VPNs because of terrorism reasons. Surely nobody would have an objection about this.