When the Turkish government ordered ISPs to block access to Twitter last Friday – a reaction to the widespread dissemination of apparent high-level corruption evidence – people in Turkey were able to circumvent the block by using Google’s alternate domain name server (DNS) service. No longer.
The original block seems to have been a DNS direct – that is, people trying to type in “twitter.com” would find their ISP redirecting the request elsewhere, rather than resolving that language-based request to Twitter’s numerical IP address.
That’s why Google’s Public DNS service proved handy, as it provided an alternative way of reaching Twitter. People distributed the address for the service via graffiti and other means, as shown above, with the result that Twitter use in Turkey actually went up 138 percent.
However, on Saturday Turkish newspapers reported that the government had begun blocking access to Google DNS itself. And, according to Ars Technica, there is now also a block at the IP address level, just to make sure.
Activist network Telecomix also reported that Google DNS was being spoofed (someone was impersonating it) on an Istanbul airport Wi-Fi network, though one of the coordinators tells me this is a longstanding issue that’s unrelated to recent events:
We have only one reported case at the airport in Istanbul. Doesn't appear to be nation-wide.—
Telecomix Turkey (@TelecomixTurkey) March 23, 2014
So now Turkish Twitter users are left with few options: they can use Twitter’s SMS service, as the company suggested; they can roll up their sleeves and muck around with host files; they can use a VPN service; or they can use the anonymizing network Tor, which many are clearly doing.
Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s keenness for hardcore censorship may not just put the global spotlight on the corruption scandal he’s trying to hide; it may also encourage his citizens to sharpen up their technical skills.
This article was updated at 3:40 AM PT to note that the airport Wi-Fi Google DNS spoofing is not a new issue.