Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Bypassing Blogger Bans

Living in Turkey is great. The lifestyle is good. There are markets where you can get almost any gadget conceivable. There's broadband and wireless. But...

The Turkish courts have a habit of banning whole websites such as YouTube, GeoCities and now Blogger because a minority complains about a small piece of content that offends them.

YouTube is usually blocked after complaints about videos that insult Atatürk, the founder of modern Turkey. GeoCities and Google Groups and other sites were apparently blocked by a Muslim creationist claiming to be defamed by a prominent evolutionist.

Blogger is apparently blocked because a soccer matches broadcast on a Turkish TV service are being captured and streamed through Blogger.

Instead of banning just the offending content, the courts ban the whole sites.

So how to get around it? Many Turks are using proxy servers and tunnels websites. This works OK for viewing, but when Javascript or seamless access to the sites is required it gets messy and you need to copy/paste URLs a lot.

To access Blogger and the other blocked sites, I have a SSH tunnel localhost connection to a server. I connect FireFox to this tunnel using the socks layer with FoxyProxy. My server provides DNS for the affected URLs as well as routing the content. Going through the server slows the connection so I have FoxyProxy using pattern matching to connect the socks proxy only for sites that are banned. When I see the dreaded "This site has been banned by blah..." message, I can add the URL pattern and continue browsing.

While this is a workaround, I would prefer that the censorship would stop or at least be done properly - only blocking the offensive content - not whole sites. I invite you to join the Facebook cause to Stop Internet Censorship in Turkey!

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