Civil Liberties

Encrypted Connections Shield Turkish Protesters from Government Scrutiny

A free phone app makes it easy


Mobile internet users in Turkey are routing around suspected censorship by its government by downloading software that encrypts and hides their connections to the outside world, as the unrest in the country grows.

People there are also downloading communications apps such as Twitter and Ustream, which can broadcast live video, and Zello, which works like a walkie-talkie, so they can record events and avoid surveillance, as protests and disorder entered their sixth day.

Over the weekend, more than 120,000 people inside Turkey have downloaded Hotspot Shield, a free mobile app that provides a "virtual private network" (VPN) connection that cannot be tapped and can link to the outside world, avoiding censorship. Anchorfree, which makes the software, said its product – already popular inside the country as a means of evading government internet censorship – had leapt more than three thousandfold over the weekend.