Recents in Beach

Censorship Making it Tougher to Run a Website in Turkey

This bit of news runs on from my last post about Pakistan blocking Facebook and provides yet another reason that fair minded ordinary people are being forced to use anonymous surfing programs if they want to surf the web without interference.

It's yet again part censorship but mostly the technical limitations of how the internet feed to a country can be restricted using blunt methods.  The Telecommunications Communication Presidency (TIB) in Turkey have asked the ISPs to filter IP addresses that are associated with YouTube.  Now YouTube was actually blocked in Turkey sometime ago, using a clumsy combination of my least favorite censorship method of DNS poisoning (mainly because it's hopeless and anyone can bypass it) and the slightly more effective IP address blocking.   But it seems that wasn't enough and they suspect that other IP addresses associated with YouTube represent a risk to whatever they're trying to protect Turkish citizens from.

Of course the problem is that these IP addresses happen to owned by Google the owners of YouTube, who actually run quite a few different applications that people use worldwide.  You may use them yourself - application like Google Earth, Chrome Web browser, Google Analytics, Google webmail, Google Webmaster tools and Google Docs to name just a few.  So what it is the problem with this?  Well despite what the TIB believe a web site is not hosted on a single web server in a particular datacenter with a specific IP address. Services, applications and web sites are distributed across thousands of servers in datacenters across the world.

Here's some of the locations of the Google Datacenters, where applications are distributed and load balanced across them worldwide.  So when you decide to block a few IP addresses that you think have something to do with YouTube to prevent some videos that you  think may be a bit disrespectful being shown in Istanbul. What you are actually doing in potentially blocking or affecting a host of other services which may be 
distributed across those very same servers.

So now Turkish webmasters are having difficulty checking Google analytics on their websites, tracking visitors and just basically using tools to participate in normal Ecommerce across the web.  Does it sound like a way to give your country a competitive edge in the online market place ?  There are reports of a host of Google applications which are either not working or running extremely slowly when accessed via the Turkish ISPs.

There are of course many arguments for and against internet censorship depending on your religion and political views but when you see some of the hopeless attempts to block access you feel that this is perhaps the biggest objection of all.   Also remember that anyone who really wants to can bypass these filters using products like Identity Cloaker perfectly easily, so you end up only censoring a certain section of society based on their computer knowledge or income - sound fair ??   No I don't think it is either !

The Turkish Journalists Association have also joined in the criticism calling the ban  "a restriction of freedom of communication".   Now it's pretty certain that  the Turkish Government didn't mean to end up banning a load of Web 2.0 functions and analytical tools - but it does illustrate how ridiculous this pantomime filtering is. ISPs are being ordered to block IP addresses on barely more than a whim, an IP address that can be reassigned in minutes from a hard core porn site to a web site about knitting.   Yes, I'm afraid it's that stupid.

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