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Turkey’s internet crackdown has users flocking to VPNs

privacy

Prospect of much tighter controls on social media sparks renewed interest in privacy tools.

Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey’s increasingly censorious president, has sparked another rush for VPN services. No, this is not the result of some government campaign to encourage VPN adoption, but a reaction to upcoming legislation that threatens to stamp out basic internet freedoms.

A new bill stipulates that the likes of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and TikTok will have to comply with requests to remove content or provide the identity of users. If not, the bandwidth allocated to these platforms can limited by up to 95%.

Raising the hackles of net neutrality supporters still further was a proposal by the Nationalist Movement Party (MHP) to ban access to VPN apps that can get around Ankara’s punitive social media control measures. No surprise then that Turks have snapped up VPN services in their droves before a ban might come into place.

NordVPN, a VPN provider, reported a 20% growth in interest of its product “overnight”.

“Whenever a government announces an increase in surveillance, internet restrictions, or other types of constraints, people turn to privacy tools like VPN,” said Laura Tyrell, Head of Public Relations at NordVPN.

This is not the first time there’s been a spike in VPN interest in Turkey. NordVPN reports that it’s happened three times in the last five years, caused by bans on social media or restrictions on free access to information.

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