Google confirmed "credible reports" that its Domain Name System (DNS) service has been intercepted by most Turkish Internet service providers (ISPs) in an effort to quash conversations reported to
come from the foreign minister, his undersecretary, the head of the National Intelligence Agency, and deputy chief of staff of the Turkish Armed Forces discussing Turkey’s Syria policy.
The DNS directs computers to addresses of a server similar to the way someone might look up a phone number in a phone book. Google operates DNS servers to quickly and securely connect searchers to site hosts such as Google+, Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter.
In an example on the company's online security blog, Steven Carstensen, Google software engineer, explains how someone might switch your phone book with another one, which looks pretty much the same as before, except that the listings for a few people showed the wrong phone number. Essentially, the Turkish ISPs have set up servers that masquerade as Google's DNS service, according to a Google post.
It's not technologically impossible. Microsoft engineer Bryan Seely did something similar to prove to authorities that there are vulnerabilities in Google's mapping platform. Seely created the fake business listings for the FBI in San Francisco and Secret Service in Washington, D.C. in Google's mapping platform, which directed callers from the fake numbers to the real numbers for each of the government agencies. It allowed him to capture the audio conversations of the unsuspecting callers with the real federal agents.
The Human Rights Watch reports that "the Turkish government’s decision to close down YouTube by administrative order is a disastrous move for freedom of expression and the right to access information in Turkey."
The reports describe Turkey’s Telecommunications Communication Directorate decision to block YouTube as a violation of freedom of speech. It occurred after two leaked conversations were posted on the site.
The Turkish government similarly shut down Twitter on March 21, although the restrictions violate Turkey’s obligations under international human rights law and domestic law. The block followed a three-court ruling on content and accounts.
Since January, there have been several disruptions in service worldwide. In January, all Google products in China took a hit. In February, all products in Syria were disrupted for two hours and 20 minutes. Now in Turkey, traffic to YouTube has been disrupted for four days.