White House Press Secretary Jay Carney today responded to the Turkish government’s attempt to block Twitter in the country. The suppressive effort failed in the most basic sense, as Twitter users could still tweet via SMS, or change their DNS settings and get around the block.
Here’s the White House:
The United States is deeply concerned that the Turkish government has blocked its citizens’ access to basic communication tools. We oppose this restriction on the Turkish people’s access to information, which undermines their ability to exercise freedoms of expression and association and runs contrary to the principles of open governance that are critical to democratic governance and the universal rights that the United States stands for around the world. We have conveyed our serious concern to the Turkish government, urge Turkish authorities to respect the freedom of the press by permitting the independent and unfettered operation of media of all kinds, and support the people of Turkey in their calls to restore full access to the blocked technologies.
Importantly, the Obama administration just called Twitter a “basic communication tool,” implying that tweets are on par in terms of their importance to a society to phone calls, texts and the like. It’s also good of the White House to directly connect free speech and democracy.
It will be interesting to see what comes next for Turkey: How do you walk back a Twitter ban?
There have been reports that the blockade is being lifted, albeit slowly. The ban didn’t descend all at once, and so it appears that the ban won’t lift all at once. We’re monitoring the situation as well as we can from here. If you’re on the ground, our tips line would love to know what you see.