“Autocratic governments often limit phone and Internet access in tense times. But the Internet has never faced anything like what happened in Egypt on Friday, when the government of a country with 80 million people and a modernizing economy cut off nearly all access to the network and shut down cellphone service.
Few governments have cut off access entirely; Myanmar did so in 2007, as did Nepal two years earlier. But at least 40 countries filter specific Internet sites or services, as China does by prohibiting access to some foreign news sources, said Prof. Ronald Deibert, a political scientist and director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, which tracks the intersection of technology and politics.
“It’s almost become de rigueur during events like this — elections or political demonstrations — to tamper with the Internet,” Professor Deibert said. But he added that the shutdown in Egypt was “unprecedented in scope and scale.””
From The New York Times
Posts tagged “Egypt”
“In a nearly unprecedented move, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered all Internet service providers to shut off connectivity. As of 1:00 am Cairo time on Friday, January 28 — a day of planned demonstrations — reports began to circulate that Egyptians had lost access to the Internet. Shortly thereafter, it became apparent that only one ISP, Noor Group — which connects about 8% of Egypt’s Internet users — was still available.”
From OpenNet Initiative
“The Egyptian government ordered a digital crackdown Friday in an effort to quell protesters, shutting down internet access and cellphone services, but some Egyptians are still finding ways to connect with others.
“This is certainly not unprecedented in type, but it is unique in scope and size,” said Ron Deibert, director of the Canada Centre for Global Security Studies and the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto.
“If you step back, these type of controls are generally growing in scope, scale and sophistication,” said Deibert, who says his research team has identified at least 40 countries that engage in some form of internet filtering.”
“TUNIS, Tunisia –- When Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s dictatorship began unraveling here last month amid violent street protests, Tunisia’s internet administrators saw a massive spike in the number of sites placed on government block lists. But, in contrast to the embattled Egyptian government, the Ben Ali regime never ordered internet and cellphone communications shut off or slowed down, the head of the Tunisian Internet Agency says.
Kamel Saadaoui, the director of the Tunisian Internet Agency of three years, complains that the perception of the ATI as an oppressive cyber-nanny is undeserved. He was just following the regime’s orders, he insists. Now that the government has changed, he’s following those new policies, helping open up Tunisian internet access as never before.”
“Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said “Egyptian authorities” had asked the company to “turn down the network totally.” Mr. Colao said Vodafone determined that the request was legitimate under Egyptian law, and therefore complied with the request. “I hope” the decision will be reversed by Egypt “very soon,” Mr. Colao said, in comments to a Davos session on mobile devices.”
“About a half-hour past midnight Friday morning in Egypt, the Internet went dead.
Almost simultaneously, the handful of companies that pipe the Internet into and out of Egypt went dark as protesters were gearing up for a fresh round of demonstrations calling for the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule, experts said.
The Internet blackout in Egypt shows that a country with strong control over its Internet providers apparently can force all of them to pull their plugs at once, something that Mr. Cowie called “almost entirely unprecedented in Internet history.” All manner of devices are affected, from mobile phones to laptops.”
From The Globe and Mail
“This week, Egypt became the latest Middle Eastern country to see massive anti-government street demonstrations. As in Tunisia earlier this month and Iran last year, activists have made heavy use of social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook — and the Egyptian regime has responded harshly. On Jan. 25, Twitter officially confirmed reports that access to its site had been blocked. Is it really possible to do that?”
From Foreign Policy
“BlackBerry Internet access has been reportedly blocked in Egypt on the third day of violent protests calling for political reform in the country.
The BlackBerry Web shut-down has been reported by Twitter users from Egypt who have accessed the site using third-party applications and other loopholes in the governments blocking of the site.
On Tuesday, Twitter and Facebook were also blocked by the Egyptian government, which has been run by President Hosni Mubarak for more than 30 years.”
From Los Angeles Times
“Inspired by the recent Tunisian demonstrations against corruption, protesters are filling the streets of Cairo. And like the protests in Tunisia, the Egyptian ones were partly organized on Facebook and Twitter. And now Twitter appears to be blocked in Egypt, according to various Tweets and tips we’ve received.”
“There are few moments in the political atmosphere of the Middle East that fill me with genuine pride. While eyes have long been fixed on opposition movements in Iran and Egypt, suddenly Tunisia has provided one of the most inspiring episodes of indigenous revolt against a repressive regime.
Following the self-immolation of an unemployed man, riots and demonstrations have swept through the country.”
From The Guardian