“With Facebook playing a starring role in the revolts that toppled governments in Tunisia and Egypt, you might think the company’s top executives would use this historic moment to highlight its role as the platform for democratic change. Instead, they really do not want to talk about it.
The social media giant finds itself under countervailing pressures after the uprisings in the Middle East. While it has become one of the primary tools for activists to mobilize protests and share information, Facebook does not want to be seen as picking sides for fear that some countries — like Syria, where it just gained a foothold — would impose restrictions on its use or more closely monitor users, according to some company executives who spoke on the condition of anonymity because they were discussing internal business.”
From The New York Times
Posts tagged “Egypt”
“Days after Facebook and Twitter added fuel to a revolt in Egypt, the Obama administration plans to announce a new policy on Internet freedom, designed to help people get around barriers in cyberspace while making it harder for autocratic governments to use the same technology to repress dissent.
Ron Deibert, the director of the Citizen Lab at the University of Toronto, said that governments had been shifting from blocking the Internet to hacking and disabling it. Even in the United States, he noted, the Senate is considering a bill that would allow the president to switch off the Internet in the event of a catastrophic cyberattack.”
From The New York Times
“WASHINGTON — The White House says Iran’s government is showing it’s scared of the will of its people by cracking down on opposition leaders and blocking international media outlets in the wake of Egypt’s uprising.
Press secretary Robert Gibbs says the Iranian government should allow its people to demonstrate and assemble peacefully.”
From The Washington Post
“Social media did not make the revolution in Egypt happen. But, with every step chronicled in real time and broadcast to anyone with an Internet connection, it hastened its pace and transferred the voice of international scrutiny from sovereign leaders to a community of millions. When it comes to pressuring an authoritarian leader to step down, the heat has never been turned up so quickly.
As entrepreneur Habib Haddad tweeted about the whole thing, ‘Social media has lowered the cost of revolution.’ ”
“Amnesty International has urged the Azerbaijani authorities to stop the harassment of activists, after two members of an opposition youth organization were apparently targeted this week for using Facebook to call for anti-government protests.
Jabbar Avalanche, a member of the Azerbaijan Popular Front Party’s (APFP) youth group, has been jailed for two months pending trial on drugs charges after he posted on Facebook calling for a “Day of Rage” inspired by protests in the Middle East and North Africa.”
“In response to dramatic developments in Egypt, Salil Shetty, Amnesty International’s Secretary General, said:
“I congratulate the protesters for their extraordinary courage and commitment to achieve fundamental change.”
“Persistent attempts to put down peaceful protests have not only failed but redoubled the determination of those demanding change.”
“Cellphones may be helping to connect and organize the pro-democracy protesters massing in the streets of Cairo and Alexandria. But they’re also offering a new way for authoritarians to track those protesters and monitor their communications.
So one company, Whisper Systems, is releasing a new way for Egyptians to thwart wiretaps on their smartphones. On Thursday, it launched an Egypt-specific version of two applications for Android devices: RedPhone, an encrypted voice-over-Internet calling app, and TextSecure, which encrypts users’ text messages. The Egyptian versions of the apps are available at Whispersys.com.”
“The Egyptian government shut down most of its country’s internet not by phoning ISPs one at a time, but by simply throwing a switch in a crucial data center in Cairo.
That according to a February presentation to the Department of Homeland Security’s Infosec Technology Transition Council, obtained by Wired.com.
The presentation — made by Bill Woodcock, research director of the Packet Clearing House — argues that the Egyptian Communications Ministry acted quite responsibly in the procedure it used to cut ties from the net, after the shutdown was ordered by Egypt’s much-feared intelligence service.”
“Not long ago it was unthinkable that any country with a major Web presence would completely disconnect from the Internet. Least of all Egypt. With 80 million people and high penetration, it has the largest number of users in the region.
That all changed with the flick of a switch on Jan. 28. At the height of demonstrations against President Hosni Mubarak’s 31-year rule, the government forced all Internet service providers to pull the plug.
To be sure, other countries have meddled with the Internet when their own demonstrations have heated up—Iran, China and Tunisia, for example. But the governments in those countries targeted particular regions of the country or specific websites like Twitter, Google and Facebook. The Egyptian government’s decision to shut down all Internet access was unprecedented, even for authoritarian regimes.”
From Wall Street Journal
“They are the young professionals, mostly doctors and lawyers, who touched off and then guided the revolt shaking Egypt, members of the Facebook generation who have remained mostly faceless — very deliberately so, given the threat of arrest or abduction by the secret police.
Now, however, as the Egyptian government has sought to splinter their movement by claiming that officials were negotiating with some of its leaders, they have stepped forward publicly for the first time to describe their hidden role.”
From The New York Times