​Reddit Joins the Long List of Websites to Be Banned, Unbanned by Turkey

The image-sharing site, Imgur, is still banned.
November 15, 2015, 9:08pm
Anti-censorhip protest in Turkey. Image: Flickr

Friday night, Turkey banned Reddit. Just a day later, "the front page of the internet" was back.

The initial block was confirmed by Turkey's Telecom Authority (TIB) with the following statement: "After technical analysis and legal consideration based on the Law Nr. 5651, ADMINISTRATION MEASURE has been taken for this website (reddit.com) according to Decision Nr. 490.05.01.2015.-252804 dated 13/11/2015 of the Presidency of Telecommunication and Communication."

Law 5651, cited above, is Turkey's unpopular internet censorship law, which allows the country to block sites for a variety of reasons—from terrorism to pornography to piracy. The law, enacted in 2007, gives the TIB the right to block sites and content without requiring any external authorization.

Updates made to the law last year that expanded its scope caused protests in the capital of Ankara as well as in Istanbul, and drew criticism from Human Rights Watch, who said that Turkey "has an abysmal record of protecting free expression online," and has already "blocked tens of thousands of websites" under Law 5651.

Critics have also noted that the updates were made right as prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan found himself embroiled in a corruption scandal. Erdogan of course rejects criticism of the law, saying that it has only made the Internet "safer and freer."

In the wake of the ban, Turkish redditors shared strategies for circumventing the block and groused about the increasingly restrictive laws in their home country. As one user lamented, "It's sad to see what Erdogan is doing to my country." As a result of the censorship laws, many Turkish citizens have become well-versed in using VPNs and Tor to circumvent blocks.

Reddit joins a list of sites that Turkey has temporarily banned in the past, a list which includes YouTube and Twitter. Popular image-sharing site Imgur is still banned.