“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
Posts tagged “Egypt”
“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
“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
“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.”