Reddit has become the latest victim of Internet censorship in Turkey, where government authorities have blocked the site under an Internet regulation law.
The Telecom Authority of Turkey, which regulates Internet content in the country, has confirmed that it blocked access to Reddit, a popular website for aggregating and commenting on news articles. The agency cited Turkey’s Internet Censorship Law 5651 as the basis for the ban.
The official purpose of that law, which dates to 2007, is to grant the government the authority to block sites or apps that contain pirated material, pornographic content or criticism of the Turkish president. So far, the government has not given a reason for why it chose to block Reddit.
It’s reasonable to assume that Reddit threads on sexually explicit topics or ones critical of the government triggered the ban. However, that would not explain why the government targeted Reddit in particular, but not any of the numerous other sites and online apps that, like Reddit, contain content on a wide variety of topics, including but not limited to those that the Turkish government vows to censor.
The Reddit censorship is only the latest episode in a long history of online censorship in Turkey. The government has blocked YouTube and Twitter in the past, although courts threw out those bans.
Fortunately for Reddit fans in Turkey, the government has not censored the site in a very sophisticated way. It has only blocked Reddit access at the DNS level. Anyone using a DNS service not based in Turkey — like these free public DNS services — can easily circumvent the ban. (The Turkish government has blocked some public DNS services — notably Google’s — in the past to prevent backdoor access to the sites it censors, but it’s unlikely that it can block every third-party DNS.)