The Turkish government’s ban on Twitter has been lifted following yesterday’s ruling by the Constitutional Court dictating that an overall ban on communication platforms is a violation of the right to freedom of speech. TIB, the governmental administration in charge of internet regulations, just now reopened the access to the site.
Previously, an administrative court in Ankara also ruled that the Twitter blocking was a violation of the existing law under which it was imposed and its execution was to be halted. However, TIB rejected to comply with the ruling on the grounds of the court’s lack of jurisdiction over them and kept Twitter banned until today.
The removal of the ban came just three days after the controversial local elections, in which the ruling AKP party gained victory.
The government of Turkey blocked Twitter on 20th of March, on the grounds that many allegations ‘hurting personal reputation and privacy’ were distributed via the microblogging site and the company had refused to remove the said ‘illegal’ content and accounts. Twitter subsequently filed two petitions with the Turkish courts to challenge the ban, winning one of them. The execution of that ruling was not implemented by the TİB.
Recently social networks were widely used in Turkey to circulate corruption allegations about the AKP government, which included voice and video recordings depicting prime minister Tayyip Erdogan, as well as family members, ministers and bureaucrats, discussing how to hide incredible amounts of money from state prosecutors, put pressure on newspaper bosses and how best to crack down on the opposition.
YouTube has also been banned since last week on the same ‘privacy’ grounds. The government said they have sent requests to Google for the removal of the said content but the company refused to do so.
Turkish people, especially the tech-savvy youth who are intensive users of social networks, have been widely critical of the recent censorship on the social networks, working around the ban via DNS changes and VPN applications.
The government, who was anxious to stop these workarounds, made Turk Telekom, the largest (arguably, monopolistic) internet infrastructure provider in Turkey, ‘hijack’ Google DNSs, intercepting the traffic originating from Turkey to its own servers pretending to be Google’s, therefore blocking users’ entrance to the banned websites. Google confirmed the so-called ‘DNS poisoning’ incident in an official blog post.
Turk Telekom has so far declined to comment on the action, accepted internationally as an ‘illegal’ practice mostly used by internet criminals and scammers who want to steal the personal info of users.
UPDATE: Twitter endorsed the lifting of the ban with a tweet sent from its @policy account a couple of minutes ago:
UPDATE 2: The Ministry of Transportation, Maritime and Communications released a statement about the unblocking of Twitter. It says: “In compliance with the ruling of the Constitutional Court of Turkey, dated 2 April 2014 with ref no 2014-3986, allowing individual appeals (against the overall ban), the preventive measure of blocking the access to the ‘Twitter.com’ web site has been lifted and the access to the said web site will be restored as soon as the necessary technical processes are completed”.