When I talk to parent groups about the Internet, one questions that almost always comes up is “Can’t we do anything to block the Internet and keep our children safe.”
The short answer is, “Sure, there are lots of things that can be done in the home.” But to block the Internet for an entire country? The short answer is, “probably not.”
Last week the Turkish prime minister, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, said he was going to “eradicate” Twitter. Turkish telecommunications officials have said Twitter violates “personal rights and the confidentiality of private lives” and said access would only be restored if Twitter removes the offending illegal content.
Yet only one day after this announcement Turkish users employed a number of services to send more than one million tweets in defiance of the ban. While Twitter-dot-com itself is blocked, access to the service is still active.
Almost as soon as the ban was announced, a very low-tech attack began. On walls around the country a mysterious set of numbers began to appear. They are the numbers for DNS servers, meaning it takes fewer than a dozen key strokes to gain access.
In fact, Wikileaks almost immediately posted a video with step by step instructions, in Turkish, for getting around the ban.
This not to say the Internet can’t be blocked. It can. But it has to be done through hardware, not software. In other words, a nation can cut an undersea cable or block a satellite transmission. But so long as a computer or phone can get a signal, then attempts to prevent access will prove futile.
So apparently, once again, attempts to control the message by killing the messenger have proved futile. In fact, today both the original message, and messages detailing attempts to block that original message, are only a few keystrokes away.