Turkish Government Blocking Access to Google Sites

Updated: The Turkish government appears to have blocked access to some or all of Google’s services in that country, according to reports from several news outlets, as well as Turkish citizens on Twitter and elsewhere. It’s not clear whether this is a deliberate attempt to block all of Google’s websites and services, or whether the latest access restrictions are related to the government’s ongoing attempts to block YouTube. Access to Google’s video service was cut off in 2008 after complaints that videos critical of Mustafa Kamal Ataturk — the founder of modern Turkey — were available on the YouTube site. Criticism of Turkey, or any “insult to Turkishness,” is a criminal offence in that country.

A Google spokesman said in an emailed statement, “We have received reports that some Google applications are unable to be accessed in Turkey. The difficulty in accessing some Google services in Turkey appears to be linked to the ongoing ban on YouTube. We are working to get our services back up as soon as possible.” Meanwhile, a report at a website called The National Turk, which appears to be based at least in part on news stories from the Turkish newspaper Hurriyet, says that:

The Telecommunication and communication Ministry (TIB), a government body that can control Internet accessibility in Turkey is attempting to block certain IP’s (Internet Protocol Addresses) belonging to Google due to “legal reason”. Some ADSL company’s and Internet services providers have sent their customers E-mail’s and letters informing them of inaccessibility or the slow use of certain Google services [sic throughout].

According to the report, the Turkish communications ministry has also tried to block Facebook several times. ISPs in the country have reportedly told users that they would suffer “accessibility problems” to Google’s home page in Turkey, websites that use Google Analytics, and use of the Google Toolbar. Another Turkish news site, Hurriyet Daily News, says that the access restrictions could be a result of the government trying to block specific DNS addresses that relate to Google, as part of its ongoing attempts to block YouTube.

Turkish citizens on Twitter and other social networks such as FriendFeed have also reported access problems, and have been sharing comments about the blockage using hashtags such as TurkeyCensorGoogle and TurkeyGoogleBan, as well as NoGoogleNoWeb. Access to YouTube was blocked by a Turkish court order after government complaints that videos critical of Ataturk were available on the site. The Turkish law that makes it an offence to “insult Turkishness” has led to the arrest of writers and journalists in that country, as well as the killing of newspaper editor Hrant Dink in 2007.

Update: According to reports from Turkish news sources, the government is saying that Google is responsible for the range of IP addresses that are being blocked due to the court order regarding YouTube, and therefore it is up to the company to correct the problem. Thanks to Robin Wauters for the tip.

Post and thumbnail photos courtesy of Flickr user Hank Ashby

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