Turkey blocks access to VPNs, ProtonMail
Turkey’s government has strengthened its hold over internet access in the country by blocking networks used to access banned websites, Turkish news site Diken reported on Friday.
The banning of 20 Virtual Private Networks, or VPNs, coincided with the decision to block access to ProtonMail, a service that offers users high security encrypted email.
Internet freedom has sharply declined in Turkey in recent years, with independent watchdog Freedom House classifying Turkey as “not free” in its Freedom on the Net 2017 report.
The Turkish government passed a legal amendment in 2014 granting it the power to block any website within four hours and without first seeking a court ruling. It has made frequent use of this authority, banning websites as seemingly-innocuous as Wikipedia, and frequently blocking social media sites including Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp.
By blocking the use of 20 VPNs, which allow users to circumvent restrictions, Turkish authorities have reduced the means by which citizens were accessing banned sites.
Another censorship law was passed last February that opposition lawmakers described as “draconian.”