Germany warns travelers to Turkey over legal action on VPN use

With thousands of websites now inaccessible in Turkey, its citizens and foreigners have been driven toward VPNs for free access to the internet. (Reuters/File)
Updated 27 November 2019

Germany warns travelers to Turkey over legal action on VPN use

  • Digital networks are being ‘strictly monitored by Ankara to control flow of information’

ISTANBUL: Germany has warned its citizens traveling to Turkey that they could face legal action for using Virtual Private Networks (VPNs) in the country.

In the first-ever formal warning on the issue from such a high government level, the German Ministry for Foreign Affairs cautioned that the digital networks were strictly monitored by the Turkish government to control the flow of information.

The alert is likely to prompt travelers from other countries to be aware of the potential legal consequences of using VPNs.

With hundreds of thousands of websites now inaccessible in Turkey, its citizens and foreigners have been driven toward VPNs for free access to the internet. But the use of a VPN connection can turn some people into a person of interest in the eyes of law enforcement agencies.

“Do not sign any documents that you do not understand. Request a lawyer. Keep your ID on your person. Be open to cooperation while at security checkpoints,” the German ministry said in a statement.

Its updated warning noted that German citizens who had been active in Kurdish organizations in Germany were being detained in Turkey and it issued a reminder that insulting the president (of Turkey) or terror charges carried heavy sentences.

Turkey’s recent military incursion into northern Syria also prompted Germany to update its travel safety advice on eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey, while it cautioned against visiting the country’s major cities where potential terror group attacks could target foreign nationals.

HIGHLIGHTS

• Turkey’s recent military incursion into northern Syria also prompted Germany to update its travel safety advice on eastern and southeastern regions of Turkey, while it cautioned against visiting the country’s major cities where potential terror group attacks could target foreign nationals.

• The warning coincided with the latest row between Berlin and Ankara over the detention of a lawyer who had been working on asylum cases in the German Embassy in the Turkish capital.

The warning coincided with the latest row between Berlin and Ankara over the detention of a lawyer who had been working on asylum cases in the German Embassy in the Turkish capital.

German officials have slammed the move as a “violation” of diplomatic conventions and urged for the release of the lawyer who was in charge of Turkish citizens seeking asylum in Germany. But Ankara has accused him of espionage.

Meanwhile, Turkey recently deported a number of German citizens with suspected ties to Daesh.

Isik Mater, a digital rights activist, told Arab News that nobody had so far been punished just for using VPNs, but the use of such internet tools had been among the political reasons for going after some foreigners.

The year-long incarceration of German-Turkish correspondent Deniz Yucel, of Die Welt, over espionage and terrorism charges brought Ankara and Berlin to the brink of a diplomatic crisis last year. He was released after intense political negotiations.

Mater, who is also the research director at media freedom watchdog Turkey Blocks, said internet service providers were able to detect the moment a person connected to a VPN, but could not reach the website the person clicked on.

“The only way the public authorities obtain personal information about people using the VPNs is through contacting the company which provides VPN services. But again, this means there is a political motive behind it,” she added.

Turkey Blocks regularly monitors internet censorship and blackout cases in Turkey. The group also reveals signs of interference and cyberattacks on critical infrastructure using real-time measurement techniques.


MBC Group to bring Rotana Media’s channels and content to Shahid VIP

Updated 24 November 2020

MBC Group to bring Rotana Media’s channels and content to Shahid VIP

  • Rotana’s TV content will also be made available on-demand so that subscribers can watch it anytime

DUBAI: MBC Group and Rotana Media Group, the largest media companies in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, are joining forces to bring Rotana’s TV channels to Shahid VIP, MBC Group’s premium subscription video-on-demand (SVOD) platform.

Commenting on the partnership, MBC chairman, Waleed Al-Ibrahim said: “One year ago we signed our first partnership with Rotana Media Group, which contributed immensely to the Shahid VIP success story in 2020. Taking our collaboration to the next level was a natural step as we continue to enhance the Shahid VIP value proposition.”

Rotana’s TV content will also be made available on-demand so that subscribers can watch it anytime, anywhere, in the region. The long-term partnership will allow Shahid VIP to expand its Arabic content offering as it continues to deliver on its mission to entertain MENA audiences through a best-in-class streaming service.

Rotana’s award-winning TV channels – including Rotana Cinema, Rotana Khalijia, Rotana+, Rotana Classic, Rotana Kids, Rotana Drama and Rotana Music) – went live in high definition on Shahid VIP from Nov. 22 across the MENA region. Additionally, Rotana’s content will be available on-demand from December.

Walid Arab Hashem, CEO of Rotana Studios & TV

Walid Arab Hashem, CEO of Rotana Studios and TV, said: “We are delighted to conclude this groundbreaking deal with MBC Group and offer Rotana channels and content on its very successful platform Shahid VIP. We are true believers in the value of Arabic entertainment and its local, regional and international appeal, and we look forward to having a long-term relationship with MBC as a means to serve our audiences.”