The Turkish government has intensified its clampdown on opposition as well as major social media websites. Major social media websites and chat apps such as YouTube, Twitter, Facebook and WhatsApp are being blocked by throttling [a method of making certain websites unusable by slowing them down], reports Reuters on Friday.
The throttling is coming on the heels of detentions of 11 pro-Kurdish lawmakers in the mainly Kurdish southeast overnight, an internet monitoring group told Reuters.
Turkey Blocks, a monitoring network that provides live feed of internet shutdowns in the country, confirmed that at around 1am local time on Friday, Twitter and YouTube were all “blocked by throttling. A couple of minutes later, another update was provided via Twitter stating that WhatsApp had also been added to the list of blocked services in that country.
This is not the first time such move is being carried out in that country as the government continues to suppress press and internet freedom as a means of fighting opposition. Sometimes, the government restrict access to the internet at very short notice to prevent civil unrest; a move always criticized by human right groups.
Earlier in the week, internet users in the southeast of Turkey were shocked to find out that they could not go online as the government crippled infrastructure and medical supplies to patients.
In April last year, authorities in that country blocked YouTube while lifting an earlier embargo placed on Twitter. The block on Twitter came after images of an Istanbul prosecutor held at gunpoint by far-left militants circulated on the microblogging platform.
The ban placed on Twitter last year was only lifted after the company complied with an order asking it to shut down all accounts and subsequently remove all offending images of an Istanbul prosecutor held at gunpoint by far-left militants circulated on the microblogging platform.
By now each of those affected by the latest attack on free speech in that country must be used to situations like this one. WhatsApp for instance is not new to being banned in some parts of the world. Earlier in 2016, the mobile chat app was suspended by a judge in Brazil for failing to turn in encrypted data of a user.
The judge threatened to sanction any cell phone carrier in the country that failed to enforce its ruling, as reported by a local newspaper Folha de S.Paulo. Judge Montalvao had earlier ordered the arrest of Facebook’s vice president for Latin America, Diego Dzodan last March. The order for his arrest came on the heels of a statement in which Facebook said Dzodan had has no power over WhatsApp’s data.
Similar action was taken against WhatsApp last December when authorities in Brazil cut off the services of the chat app. The cut off was, which was meant to last for 48 hours was lifted only 12 hours after it came into being.