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Turks turn to encryption

Government has a fight on its hands

Turks are buying encryption software to thwart any ramp up in censorship of the Internet. After six days of anti-government demonstrations and a wave of arrests reportedly for urging people to protest on social media sites, the government is understood to be going into emergency snooping mode.

Hotshot Shield, a VPN that disguises users' identities and encrypts traffic on the Web, said more than 120,000 people had signed up to its service in Turkey since the weekend, more than 10 times typical levels. The software was used by democracy movements around the world, including in the Arab Spring, to circumvent government censorship of social media services such as Facebook and Twitter, said David Gorodyansky, founder of Hotshot Shield creator AnchorFree. In the end Egypt, Libya and Syria attempted to close down Internet access completely to quell protests.

So far authorities had not blocked access in Turkey, but they had "throttled down" speeds, making the sites unusable for periods of time. Police have raided 38 addresses in the western port city of Izmir and detained 25 people on suspicion of stirring insurrection on social media with comments on the protest.

The government has made clear its disapproval of social media services, which unlike newspapers and television, are not controlled by the state. Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan described sites such as Twitter as a "scourge", saying they were used to spread lies about the government with the aim of terrorising society.

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