March 27, 2014 | By Eva Galperin

When Is a Tor Block Not a Tor Block?

As Turkey prepares for elections on Sunday, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan continues to double down on Internet censorship. A week after Turkish ISPs blocked Twitter Turkey's telecommunications authority has blocked YouTube. The block began to be rolled out hours after a leaked recording published anonymously on YouTube purported to show a conversation in which Turkey's foreign minister, spy chief, and a top general appear to discuss scenarios that could lead to a Turkish attack against militants in Syria.

The fallout from the Erdoğan government's censorship spree has not been limited to platforms that host embarrassing political content. When Turkish Internet users handily circumvented the original Twitter block by using Google's DNS servers, Google's DNS was itself blocked. Now it appears that just as Turkey's ISPs are rolling out a block on YouTube, they are also blocking access to the Tor Project's website, where users can download the Tor Browser Bundle. The Tor browser is a powerful tool in the censorship circumvention toolbox because it is exceptionally difficult to filter Tor traffic.

Mirror Mirror

For users in Turkey who have already downloaded the Tor Browser Bundle, censorship circumvention should continue without a hitch. And for the users who have not yet done so, it's not too late. The Tor project's website has many mirrors—copies of the website hosted at other locations—that make the Browser Bundle available.

EFF hosts its own mirror at

Some other mirrors include:

Supporters of censorship circumvention can run their own mirrors by following Tor's instructions.

Don't Get Backdoored

When the official distribution channel for a security or censorship circumvention tool is blocked, there is a very real danger of fake or backdoored copies of the tool being distributed under the guise of real tools. Be sure to download your tools only from websites using HTTPS, and only from trusted sources such as the sites on this list. Beware of software which is distributed via IM, Skype message, or email, as well as links posted to Facebook groups.

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