What are the cyber surveillance and human rights implications of Egypt’s Internet shutdown?
This morning, Ron Deibert comments on the CBC radio show Metro Morning. Deibert speaks to the actions taken by Egyptians to get back online and to access additional information media. In discussing government surveillance of alternative information options, Professor Deibert elaborates on how Egyptian security services may be able to monitor and identify key dissidents.
Listen here from CBC
Posts tagged “Egypt”
“Iranians have found their access to major news websites even more restricted than usual as more foreign sites were blocked by a government filter, Reuters witnesses observed on Monday.
Yahoo News and Reuters.com, both usually accessible in Iran, were unavailable, joining other long-blocked news sites such as the BBC and social networks Facebook and Twitter as beyond the reach of Iranians using a standard Internet connection.
There was no official confirmation of new Internet restrictions. One Iranian government official contacted by Reuters said authorities were “looking into the source of the problem” to remove it.”
From The Globe and Mail
“Amidst the Internet blackout in Egypt that experts have deemed the “worst in Internet history,” one service provider, the Noor Group, has been up and running nearly uninterrupted since the protests in Egypt began.
Why has the Noor Group, a smaller network provider that claims around 8% market share, continued to connect users to the Web while other Internet service providers have shut off connections?
Noor’s ongoing service may be linked to the high-profile businesses and key Egyptian economic institutions that it services. As Le Monde and NewsGrange have noted, Noor’s clients include sizable multi-national corporations, as well as Egypt Air. Perhaps most notably, Noor’s network also hosts a cluster of key financial properties, such as the Egyptian stock exchange, Commercial International Bank of Egypt, the National Bank of Egypt, and the Egyptian credit bureau and the clearing house for trades that occur on the country’s stock exchange.”
From The Huffington Post
“Egyptian protestors have discovered a powerful tool: BlackBerry devices. Stellar encryption appears to have allowed users of the devices to escape (for the most part) the Egyptian government’s crackdown on communications with the outside world.
Shutting down BlackBerrys requires access to an entirely separate set of servers than other mobile units. This loophole indicates a possible motivation for earlier clashes between BlackBerry creators Research in Motion (RIM) and the governments of Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Indonesia.
The Egyptian government never demanded access to BlackBerry data. The government is believed to lack access to decrypting messages and data sent by BlackBerry Internet Service.”
From Fast Company
“Much has been said about the culpability of Hosni Mubarak’s regime in choking off the Internet as Egyptian protesters tried to organize against their government. That repressive behavior has been rightfully condemned.
But equally important over the long term is the positive responsibility of powerful social networking companies like Twitter and Facebook, whose choices today and tomorrow will prove just as crucial in shaping global rights to free assembly.
First, neither Twitter and Facebook, nor any other digital tool, can cause people to take to the streets in Cairo or anywhere else. Before anyone risks his or her freedom and physical safety to jump in and join a protest, there has to be the anger, the passion and the desire for reform. But these tools have proved to be very helpful to those who are organizing the protests.”
From New York Daily News
“Like Egypt, Syria has been ruled for decades by a single party, with a security service that maintains an iron grip on its citizens. Both countries have been struggling to reform economies stifled for generations by central control in an effort to curb unemployment among a ballooning youth demographic.
In Syria, where thousands of websites deemed opposed to state interests are blocked and where Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other social media are banned, authorities denied accusations they had restricted the service to prevent citizens hearing about events in Cairo.
Earlier this week, though, authorities banned programmes that allow access to Facebook Chat from mobile phones, a cheap and easy means of staying in touch that had exploded in popularity among young Syrians.”
“A Walpole-based group of Internet activists known as Tor is playing a key role in helping Egyptians get around Internet censorship during this current political turmoil.
Over the last three days, 120,000 people — most of them Egyptian — have downloaded Tor software, which helps activists protect their identity from surveillance by repressive regimes and get around blocked sites, according to Andrew Lewman, executive director of Tor, which provides the software for free.”
From The Boston Globe
“”When countries block, we evolve,” an activist with the group We Rebuild wrote in a Twitter message on Friday.
That’s just what many Egyptians have been doing this week, as groups like We Rebuild scramble to keep the country connected to the outside world, turning to landline telephones, fax machines and even ham radio to keep information flowing in and out of the country.
“[B]asically, there are three ways of getting information out right now — get access to the Noor ISP (which has about 8% of the market), use a land line to call someone, or use dial-up,” Jillian York, a researcher with the Berkman Center for Internet & Society, said via e-mail.”
From Computer World
“China has blocked the word “Egypt” from the country’s wildly popular Twitter-like service, while coverage of the political turmoil has been tightly restricted in state media.
China’s foreign ministry did not respond to a request for comment Saturday on the events in Egypt.”
As of Thursday, in merely four hours, the Internet in Egypt ceased to connect. The Globe and Mail article features the Citizen Lab estimate that 88% of the Egyptian network is shut down, and the fact that a week beforehand the few websites that experienced newly targeted censorship were largely those of the Muslim Brotherhood.
From The Globe and Mail