What Is The Best VPN for Turkey in 2018?
NordVPN is the best VPN available for protecting your in-country internet activities while within the privacy-unfriendly borders of Turkey. The service provides top-notch protection for your online activities and your personal information.
The provider owns the fastest connection speeds on this list, while also providing optimal privacy protections and customer support. Their price isn’t bad, either.
Internet Freedom in Turkey
Internet penetration in Turkey currently sits at around 58.4% of the country. Internet speeds vary from 8 Mbps to 1,000 Mbps, depending on the location and Internet Service Provider (ISP). The 1,000 Mbps speeds are limited to certain areas in 12 Turkish cities.
Freedom House reports that internet freedom in the country “sharply” declined in 2017, due to the repeated suspension of telecoms and social media access.
From June 2016 to May 2017, these key internet-related developments took place in Turkey:
Freedom House awarded Turkey an aggregate 2017 Freedom Score of 66/100 (0 = Most Free, 100 = Least Free).
Top 5 Best VPNs for Use in Turkey
Why You Need a VPN in Turkey
Internet freedom in Turkey sharply declined during 2017, as the government repeatedly suspended telecommunication networks and sharply restricted social media access. In addition, sweeping arrests for political speech online were also reported.
In this section of the article, I’ll provide a look at the deterioration of internet freedom in Turkey, explain what types of content are being blocked and allowed, and what types of criminal or civil penalties a user could face in the country.
Turkish authorities continued to increase their lockdown on content in the country during 2017. The government blocked or throttled many websites, social networks and instant messaging services during times of domestic stress.
Blocking is continuing to increase in Turkey, as website-blocking tracking service Engelliweb found that over 114,000 websites were inaccessible from inside the country.
Over 90% of the blocked sites were blocked due to “obscenity,” which can include any site with sexual keywords in the domain. Many were related to LGBT issues. Websites that are deemed to be defamatory of Islam are blocked out of hand.
Blocking of news sites showed a significant uptick during the period, particularly those that boasted editorial policies that didn’t follow the government’s media narrative.
The Turkish government has made use of defamation charges to prosecute their critics, as defaming a public official carries a 1-year sentence, and insulting the Turkish President carries a 1- to 4-year prison sentence upon conviction.
The country’s anti-terrorism law includes penalties for spreading propaganda for terrorist organizations, with a penalty of 1 to 5 years in prison. The country has a rather broad definition of terrorism, so the law can be used against those who are simply critical of the Turkish government.
Voice Over IP
Voice over IP (VoIP) service is not actively blocked in Turkey. However, the government there is known to block websites and services in times of domestic upheaval, so this could be hit or miss.
As VoIP is an internet-related service, it’s subject to the same privacy concerns as any online service.
The Turkish government has repeatedly blocked access to popular social media sites and private messaging services on security grounds.
Access to Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and WhatsApp have all been temporarily suspended at one time or another. As mentioned above, access to Wikipedia has been permanently blocked.
When the social networks are available, you can assume that the government is closely monitoring posts and comments.
The Turkish government does block file sharing sites, such as The Pirate Bay, that host copyrighted materials.
Although the Turkish constitution says everyone has a right to freedom of communication and secrecy of communication, it doesn’t work out that way in the country.
Government surveillance, limitations on encryption and anonymity, as well as the bulk retention of user data are all serious concerns in Turkey.
Leaked emails revealed a contract between Turkish security forces and an Italian surveillance software vendor for the use of the company’s spyware software. The country’s 2016 coup has increased surveillance, with almost 70,000 social media accounts put under surveillance during 2017.
Internet Service Providers (ISPs) must store data related to their customers’ online activities for a period of one year. In addition to companies that supply connections to homes and businesses, ISPs are defined as any entity that provides an internet connection for a fee, such as an internet café, or for a period of time, such as a hotel.
Netflix is available in Turkey but is censored, and the content is limited to that which is licensed for viewing in the country. For this reason, the content will most assuredly be different from that of a visitor’s home country.
Hulu is restricted to the United States and Japan, while U.K.-based BBC iPlayer is restricted to United Kingdom viewers.
Legality of VPNs
While VPN usage in Turkey hasn’t been officially declared illegal, the government has blocked a large number of VPNs, making it tougher to free up your access to blocked sites and services.
The providers listed in this top 5 list have all informed me that their VPN service works at the time of this article. Of course, this can change at any time.
Online gambling is prohibited in Turkey, with the exception of websites owned by the state-owned IDDAA sports betting company.
Turkey does take measures to prevent gamblers from accessing foreign online casinos, which include hefty fines ranging from 100,000 to 500,000 Turkish lira ($23,453.00 to $117,263.00 USD). Yeah, that’s quite a gamble.
How a VPN Protects Your Internet Usage in Turkey
Turkish internet users that are searching for a way to protect their online activities from the increasingly strict national government, ISPs and that suspicious-looking fellow at the internet café that closes his laptop whenever anyone comes near, can find their options to be limited.
Not all VPNs work inside Turkish borders, and the providers that do work can be a hit or miss thing, as the VPN providers and government seem to be engaged in an ongoing game of Marco Polo.
The providers in my top 5 list all work inside Turkey, at least at the time of this writing.
A VPN helps protect your online activities by encrypting the information sent and received by your device, protecting it from being observed by third parties.
A VPN also helps in opening up blocked content, such as that actively blocked by the Turkish government, by making it appear that a user’s internet connection is coming from a location other than the user’s actual location.
Choosing the Best VPN for Turkey
When considering a VPN for use in Turkey, the most important factor is whether or not the VPN works from inside Turkish borders. The providers that are included in my top 5 list for this article all currently work while inside Turkey.
In addition, you’ll want to find a provider that does a good job of hiding your VPN activity, protecting your privacy, slowing your internet connection as little as possible and providing wide-ranging global server coverage.
In this section, I’ll explain each service category, tell you why the category is an important consideration and offer a look at how well each provider performs in each category.
Special Mode to Hide VPN Usage
Some of the VPN providers in this article offer a special mode that is designed to make it tougher to detect that a VPN is being used to access the internet. While each provider calls the feature by a different name, they all work to make your VPN usage tougher to detect and block.
The providers below are listed alphabetically, with a check mark or "X" to denote if a mode to hide VPN usage is offered by the company.
Privacy is always one of the most important features of VPN service. However, in a restrictive country like Turkey, it takes on even more importance.
A VPN provider should ideally be located in a privacy-friendly country, keep no logs of any type related to your online travels and protect your payment information by offering privacy-protecting payment methods, like Bitcoin.
The list below is sorted according to the privacy protections offered by the provider, best protections to worst.
Connection speed directly affects a user’s satisfaction with their online experience. This is especially true for video and gaming fans who might be located in a country like Turkey, where the available bandwidth can vary from location to location.
When I test a VPN’s connection speeds, I do the following:
All connection speed tests are performed using the Speedtest website.
The rankings are sorted in order of fastest speeds to slowest.
Avg. DL Speed
Avg. DL Speed
A kill switch helps to protect the privacy of your online activities by automatically disconnecting your internet connection if you lose connection with your VPN provider’s servers.
Since this feature is a simple “yes” or “no” feature, the providers in the list below are sorted alphabetically, with a simple “Y/N” note to indicate if the provider offers kill switch protection.
Other Factors to Consider
Customer support is the one VPN feature I hope you never get a chance to try. Unfortunately, the chances are good that you’ll need to communicate with your VPN provider’s support staff at some point, even if it’s just with a billing question.
Always look for a VPN provider that offers comprehensive support. Support offerings should include live support chat, a self-service support library and a trouble ticket submission system.
In the list below, the providers are ranked according to their performance in the support category, best support to worst.