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Turkey Blocks Tor's Anonymity Network (engadget.com) 74

An anonymous reader writes: Turkey's President Erdogan and the ruling AKP party are increasingly bent on silencing online dissent, and that now affects you even if you're smart enough to evade typical censorship methods. Watchdog group Turkey Blocks has confirmed that Turkey is blocking the Tor anonymity network's direct access mode for most users. You can still use a bridge mode for now, but there are hints that internet providers might be hurting performance even then. The restrictions come alongside a recent government ban on virtual private network services.
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Turkey Blocks Tor's Anonymity Network

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  • by Calydor ( 739835 ) on Monday December 19, 2016 @11:42AM (#53513823)

    If you have nothing to hide you should have nothing to fear.

    Wait. Oh, I'm sorry.

    If you have nothing to hide you should hope the leader of your country doesn't suffer from delusional paranoia and sees enemies everywhere.

    • Prove your innocence (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2016 @11:53AM (#53513891)

      If I have nothing to hide, then they have no reason to spy on me. If they're making me prove that I have nothing to hide, then I must not be innocent.

      The moral of this story is "prove your innocence". That's what mass surveillance really is -- an attack on the basic principle of innocent before proven guilty. If that sounds like something a third-world dictatorship would do, it's because that's exactly what third-world dictatorships do.

    • by Chrisq ( 894406 )

      If you have nothing to hide you should have nothing to fear.

      Wait. Oh, I'm sorry.

      If you have nothing to hide you should hope the leader of your country doesn't suffer from delusional paranoia and sees enemies everywhere.

      This is a Muslim country we're talking about, just not being a Muslim (or the wrong type of Muslim) will make you an enemy

    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      To be fair, Turkey just went through a coup attempt. So perhaps a bit of paranoia is to be expected from Erdogan and his government. And the British aren't very far behind Turkey in terms of Internet privacy. Just to keep things in perspective.

      • by Calydor ( 739835 )

        So you're saying that since Erdogan is showing a lot of fear he has a lot to hide?

      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 19, 2016 @01:58PM (#53514979)

        Coup attempt? You mean the "fake news" coup attempt whereas Erdogan then used as an excuse to kill anyone he considered an enemy?
        You need to expand your information gathering to outside the basement.

      • by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <richardprice@gm a i l . com> on Monday December 19, 2016 @02:38PM (#53515311)

        Its not out of the question that the coup attempt was manufactured just so Erdogan could clamp down as he has - blaming an elderly exiled cleric in the US, arresting thousands of teachers and university professors, doctors, police etc. Invading Syria (that one hasnt made the news much - Turkey currently has a significant amount of armoured fighting vehicles and troops hundreds of miles within Syria right now). Increased action against the Kurds.

        I'm not entirely convinced there was ever an opposition capable of initiating a coup, certainly not one which has tendrils the length of which Erdogan is suggestimg with his detentions...

  • Hooray for Islam! (Score:1, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward

    Keep going, and Islam will take away women's rights all over the planet, and make sure all gays are dead!

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by scsirob ( 246572 )

      They just went as far as demanding a German school in Turkey to ban any mention or celebration of Christmas.
      How about a fair trade. German schools in Turkey will refrain from references to Christmas if Turkey takes their islamic sh*t out of all European countries and shoves it..

      • by johanw ( 1001493 )

        The sultan will never do that, better we kick it out ourselves, like we did at the battle of Potiers in 732.

        Turkey is also trying to hide its latest attempt at genocide on the Kurds from the world to see. I'd say they are a prime candidate for a next "Arab spring", even though they are not Arabs.

      • by Anonymous Coward


        Turkish school's Christmas 'ban' a misunderstanding, says Germany [theguardian.com]

        Reports that a German-backed international school in Istanbul had scrapped Christmas festivities briefly caused outrage on Sunday and Monday, before the German foreign office said there had been a misunderstanding and that the school was allowed to teach Christmas traditions after all.

        Set up in 1884, Istanbul Lisesi is a Turkish-German bilingual state school attended solely by Turkish students but partly backed by the German government. Thirty-five German teachers at the school are paid for by German taxpayers, but the headteacher is nominated directly by the education ministry in Ankara.

        According to Spiegel Online, several teachers at the school said they had been told to no longer teach about German Christmas traditions in their classes, as well as being told to remove advent calendars from the classrooms.

        “We don’t understand the surprising decision by the management of the Istanbul Lisesi,” said the German foreign ministry in an initial statement. “It is too bad that the good tradition of pre-Christmas intercultural exchanges at the school with a long German-Turkish tradition has been suspended. We are of course taking this up with our Turkish partners.”

        The school denied the ban, which was first reported by the respected German news agency dpa and followed up the media in Germany and abroad.

        “The reports in German media about restrictions on Christmas festivities of German teachers do not reflect reality,” it said. “A concert was cancelled by the German teachers in question without explanation. There is no question of the school or its management placing an obstacle in its way or prohibiting it.”

        Mustafa Yenerolu, an MP with the ruling AKP, also denied the claims, saying “such false reports do nothing for Turkey-Germany relations”.

        A spokesperson for the German foreign ministry said on Monday afternoon that there was no “ban” on teaching Christmas at the school after all and that “hopefully all misunderstandings have been resolved”. By then, many German politicians had reacted with fury to the initial reports.

        Julia Klöckner, a deputy chair of Angela Merkel’s Christian Democratic party, said the incident was a sign of Turkey closing itself off from the outside world: “Those who want to restrain free thinking in this way are so ignorant, they must be capable of worse.”

        Sevim Dadelen, a politician with Germany’s Left party, told Tagesspiegel the government must “immediately summon the Turkish ambassador and send a note of protest to Ankara”.

        The Greens’ education policy spokesman, Özcan Mutlu, said the reports were “simply shocking”.

        Andreas Scheuer, the general secretary of the CSU – Merkel’s Bavarian allies – said the reports were “new proof that [President Recep Tayyip] Erdoan’s Turkey is burning all bridges with Europe”.

        Christmas is part of Germany, and that applies too for a German school abroad, Scheuer told the Funke regional media group.

        Relations between Ankara and Berlin have been strained in the wake of the failed military coup in July, with Germany repeatedly expressing concern over the scope of a massive crackdown on Erdoan’s opponents.

        Developments in Turkey have a strong resonance in Germany, home to a 3-million-strong ethnic Turkish population, the legacy of a massive “guest worker” programme in the 1960s and 70s.

    • Well, they just assassinated the Russian envoy to Turkey. US needs to pull out of NATO before it's forced to either side w/ the wrong side here - Turkey, or show NATO as the feckless organization that it's been since the Cold War ended
  • by Anonymous Coward

    You're giving the governments of the rest of us too many stupid ideas.. You're like the boyfriend who does a too good job making the rest of them having to step up their game.

    - "My leader is logging my sessions."
    - "Oh, that's cute my leader is always logging my traffic."
    - "Hah, my leader loves me the most he does all that and makes sure I can't circumvent it!"

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This is becoming more common. Pakistan already has banned VPN usage. China is pretty good at finding VPNs or bridges and stomping them, even changing posts in flight to social networks that use HTTPS. Iran is building its own "internet". Australia is working on copying China with a Great Firewall.

      It is only a matter of time before sites will become impossible to reach in countries, especially with ICANN now owned by the UN, and given the ability to select which sites get yanked just by which nations say

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Well, it was bound to happen sooner or later. We had a good run, 20 years or so. Who would have thought it would last so long? But it's over now.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Turkey's President Erdogan and the ruling AKP party

    Haha, read that as "Turkey's President Erdogan and the ruling APK party."

  • by Shane_Optima ( 4414539 ) on Monday December 19, 2016 @12:46PM (#53514283) Homepage Journal
    TFS neglects to mention that anyone with a halfway decent internet connection can help people in countries like Turkey evade censors by running a Tor bridge [torproject.org]. It appears to be extremely simple to set up. Note that this is a hidden entry node and not an exit node, so your ISP isn't going to be sending you nasty letters.

    Yes, there ss an open moral question there given the significant number of nefarious uses of Tor. However, I suspect most of those users aren't going to bother with a bridge... and I happen to think that free speech is something that's worth fighting for. You know, the real thing. Criticism of politicians. Coverage of news events that are being actively suppressed by government censors. This is about actual free speech by any sane definition [wikipedia.org].
    • by johanw ( 1001493 )

      Not really that simple after they dumped Vidalia.

      • Can't you run TBB as a relay? It's been a few years since I've looked into it. (My current pipe is way crappy to use as a relay, bridge or otherwise, otherwise I'd have looked into this sooner.)

        I'm a bit surprised about Vidalia. Would've thought there would be a stronger push to make it easy for people to run relays, but forcing them to run a full Firefox GUI if they want an easy option seems a bit wasteful.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      TFS neglects to mention that anyone with a halfway decent internet connection can help people in countries like Turkey evade censors by running a Tor bridge [torproject.org]. It appears to be extremely simple to set up. Note that this is a hidden entry node and not an exit node, so your ISP isn't going to be sending you nasty letters.

      Part of the problem is getting those bridges and Tor for that matter. I'm in Turkey and literate enough to follow tor-mirrors, but on a high level for someone new getting Tor is hard (Torproject.org is blocked by my ISP). Getting bridges is no less easier if you can't read from the base source. The ISP managed to block Tor even when I use bridges (I have to update those every month or so but even then big brother learns).

      Though on the positive side I'm sure the Tor folk will find a solution... and I'm reall

      • That sounds like an issue with how the Tor people are doling out the bridges. (One alternative being that Turkey's intelligence agencies are capable enough to do traffic analysis to deduce the identity of bridges located in other countries, which seems unlikely.)

        A more robust system would be penpal-like, with communication between the bridge provider and user to (at least tentatively) verify legitimacy. The bridges wouldn't be rotated; they would be kept secret. But on top of this, on could build a F2F [wikipedia.org]
  • You still want that wannabe dictator to join? Seriously, if that asshat is getting in, I'll find a way to get out!

    • by johanw ( 1001493 )

      Not even Merkel would push for that now, because she knows that if she did that the next German elections would make AfD able to run government with a absolute majority.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Unless you believe the "facts" of the UK's Leave campaigns, Turkey's got almost zero chance of joining the EU as it fails to meet almost all their requirements, even assuming the Turkish population want to join (polls suggest not). Doing shit like this is one of many reasons the EU won't allow them in.

    • The EU doesnt want to let Turkey in, hence the pause in the process announced a few weeks ago...

  • There are still a number of VPN providers that still offer service in Turkey, [comparitech.com] and using a VPN as your first hop should obfuscate your Tor activity and allow you to connect. It's not necessarily a bad idea to do this anyway, even if Tor is not blocked in your country.
  • I guess it doesn't blend so well with the rest of the noise...

  • I thought technology would be liberating. The Internet would give anyone access to the whole of human knowledge.
    It isn't working out like that.
    Instead, technology is enabling repressive governments all over the world to maintain near-constant surveillance on their good people. It isn't about religion or political ideology. It is a struggle for power.
    The people are losing.

... though his invention worked superbly -- his theory was a crock of sewage from beginning to end. -- Vernor Vinge, "The Peace War"