Egypt Trying To Shut Off All Internet Access, SMS

from the but-the-internet-has-no-impact dept

There's been this ongoing back and forth between people like Evgeny Morozov and Clay Shirky over the impact of the internet on political activism. And while I think it's silly and misleading to suggest that these tools are the driving force behind some of the political upheavals we've seen, I find it difficult to believe that they're not a useful tool as a part of the process. And it appears that Egyptian officials agree. Over the past few days, as protests have raged in Egypt, there have been various reports about Twitter and Facebook being blocked, with a new report saying that internet access is being cut off entirely for many and with additional reports suggesting that mobile operators have been ordered to shut off SMS text messaging services. Who knows how effective this is, but it does certainly suggest that the Egyptian government is certainly afraid of how these communication tools are being used.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

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    btrussell (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 6:50pm

    Time to break out the old CB or Ham radio!

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 7:44pm

    upvote

     

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    Qritiqal (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 7:47pm

    the last free country?

    Living in the USA, it's nice that we have such perfect freedom of speech. We are protected by our government and its laws despite the asinine behavio--... @* #*#& END OF LINE

     

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    johnjac (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 8:00pm

    Thanks

    Thank you Egypt for giving back your 3.5k IPv4 addresses to the west. Keyboard Cat, play them off. http://goo.gl/SlsZ8

     

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    Jake, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 8:29pm

    Well, that's another few percentage points on Twitter and Facebook's first-quarter profits...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 8:35pm

    I think authorities are realizing that the internet has the same mob mentality effects as a riot does in public. It encourages behavior that the people would not do by themselves in normal times, and often for reasons that they don't truly understand at the time.

    It is like flash mob for protests, except that the mob forms quicker than the idea itself. That is the most dangerous, because people feel empowered to act out, without control.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 9:15pm

      Re:

      "It is like flash mob for protests, except that the mob forms quicker than the idea itself. That is the most dangerous, because people feel empowered to act out, without control."

      If you look at the psych behind it. It is always desperation, fear, or oppression that cause these things to occur. Governments around the world have a problem with freedom of speech. The internet allows for it without consequence. This allows people to be more open, anonymous, and they do not fear repercussions in what they say.


      This is a good thing in every sense of the word "GOOD". It causes governments to think about their actions. It allows for open debate with out the fear of being shouted down. It allows a record of why things like flash crowds, and revolts have occured. These are things we can learn from.

      Since your points were reversed, I will address the first next one ...

      "I think authorities are realizing that the internet has the same mob mentality effects as a riot does in public. It encourages behavior that the people would not do by themselves in normal times, and often for reasons that they don't truly understand at the time."

      What it leads to for governments is less lead time to quell an uprising. This makes communications, not the internet, an equalizer in the game of government -vs- population. What this means is governments need to address the real issues or face uprisings.

      Slowly but surely we are moving to a point where people have more knowledge of what the government is doing. If you look at the EU, they have better telcom than we do and more uprisings. The student uprisings in britain, the crap in spain a month ago, greece, italy, etc. All driven by communications. All saying to the government, you fuked up.

      Will they learn from this, no. Will they continue business as usual, yes. Will this happen again and again until governments straighten up and move away from being corporate lackeys and listen to the concerns of the citizens, yes.

      Eventually some middle ground will be reached.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 4:48am

        Re: Re:

        Have you ever been in a real riot? I have. Riots are dangerous places, because most of the people have no idea why they are doing what they are doing. The most common riot is the "my sporting team won the championship" riot, where disguised by large crowds, those who choose violence and mayhem as their way of life start to act out, knowing they are unlikely to get caught. At some point, their activities catch on with the large crowd, and others join the mayhem. Within minutes, a seemingly happy celebrating crowd can turn into a looting, burning mobs.

        My fear is that the faster the communication, the shorter the thinking period for the individuals involved. They are reacting not to their own "desperation, fear, or oppression", but almost more to just be part of something. What they don't realize when they start is that the large crowd is often the cover for the violent few, it's like they need the crowd to make it possible.

        I am sure that in these countries there is an underlying dislike for the government that is very easy to exploit. The action in Tunisia is serving only to teach those who seek to overthrow the governments in other countries with a road map to public participation. Mobilize the youth on the street, get other more "mature" people to join in, and then use the abilities to enrage this group to try to force the issue.

        Really, you should fear that violent uprising is how all administration change happens. Can you imagine this same action in the UK or even the US?

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 5:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Really, you should fear that violent uprising is how all administration change happens. Can you imagine this same action in the UK or even the US?"

          Do you know what's funny? The US was BORN out of a violent revolution. The US also had a civil war because two sides disagreed on something.

          And yet, here you are, in one of the so called superpowers.

          My opinions is, it's been too long since a revolution happened. People are going soft.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 6:15am

          Re: Re: Re:

          In case you didn't notice all democracies are mob fueled, what do you call the right to vote?

          The violent few become the many violent ones when things are not good, generally when economies fail, then you see a lot of angry people not being coy about violence, specially if they are censored and told to be quiet.

           

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          Hephaestus (profile), Jan 28th, 2011 @ 8:00am

          Re: Re: Re:

          "Have you ever been in a real riot?"

          Yes, and my only thought was, what in the fock are these idiots doing.

          "my sporting team won the championship"

          This is such a european and south american thing. In every case it comes from the oppressed, the angry, and the uneducated. People with no real hope for anything better.

          If you look at US riots (California, florida, new york, etc) its always the same thing a slow simmering followed by an event to trigger. The communications part just makes it more likely. The only cure is to remove the underlying causes poverty, lack of education, and give people hope. All of this goes back to government policies. The lack of education goes to unions and parents who think they don't need to do anything because the state is educating their children.

          "What they don't realize when they start is that the large crowd is often the cover for the violent few, it's like they need the crowd to make it possible."

          They are called catalysts or triggers. They come in many forms, and again they are not the cause. They are the spark that starts the fire.

          "Really, you should fear that violent uprising is how all administration change happens. Can you imagine this same action in the UK or even the US?"

          Actually, yes I can, most western countries are on my failure watch list, due to the same patterns being repeated globalization, immigration, entitlements and their reduction, LCD education, high cost of health care. They all have less than 25 years at the rate they are going.

          All of it boils down to a lack of seperation between governments and corporate sponsorship of politicians, and monoply rents being applied to the population.

           

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      Some of my best friends are Anonymous Cowards, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 9:22pm

      Re:

      You really don't know what you're talking about, do you?

      Not that I expect some random asshole on the Internet to have any clue, or any empathy for people struggling to be given the luxury to behave like moronic douchebags like you just did, mind you.

      Anyway, I hope these protests end up being successful, and spread to ever more countries, in the Middle East or not.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2011 @ 2:46am

        Re: Re:

        being from the middle east, id like to say that you are a true idiot.

        didn't even make you wonder how come with in 7 days suddenly 5 countries in the middle east all had "riots".

        do you actually believe that is normal normally things like these take several month to happen.

        im all for communication makes things go faster but this is ridiculous, i don't want to sound like a conspiracy nut, but this has to has external interests at work.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jan 30th, 2011 @ 4:23am

          Re: Re: Re:

          If it had any external influence the evidence points strongly to Iran then.

          Because for the U.S. and Israel this is actually bad, all their allies are being deposed and the ones that take over probably may not be that pro-western, so the only ones that could benefit from unrest are the Iranians and others that don't like the west. Never mind the U.S. saying that the governments should respect the will of the people, that is just in public, on closed doors they probably where the ones that told the Egyptian authorities how to contain the internet and disable cells and telephones to try and contain the situation.

          Now without the conspiracy theories here is what probably happened.

          Tunisia rose up, others saw it and thought they could do the same thing, since those countries have all authoritarian governments the people don't actually like them and there is a freedom that they want to have it and they saw a chance at that and seized the moment, with internal discontent groups organizing and helping each other.

           

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 9:44pm

      Re:

      No no no, you're missing the point! We just have to ban MOBS! That will fix everything.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 1:38am

      Re:

      Funny. People always said that the online mobs were too fat and lazy to actually start a revolution. Now, suddenly, that has become a problem.

      Make up your minds already.

       

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      Killer_Tofu (profile), Jan 28th, 2011 @ 5:51am

      Re:

      Citation needed.
      Or are you just talking with a personal opinion and no proof to back it up?

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jan 27th, 2011 @ 8:59pm

    I don't think cutting the internet after people have seem how much support they have will be any good at this point people can just go sneakernet or create their own self contained little networks to organized, coupled with ol' good telephones.

     

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      Hephaestus (profile), Jan 27th, 2011 @ 9:19pm

      Re:

      Just you wait, they will start charging by the minute for phone service again soon. Then people won't be able to talk on the phone long enough to cause riots ...

      / sarc

       

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    Yeah Right, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 4:15am

    Vodaphone collusion

    Well, I hope Vodaphone customers across the globe will show the company what they think about its actions.

     

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      EnricoSuarve, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 4:56am

      Re: Vodaphone collusion

      We're trying but honestly we can't get the connection we need to start opn eof these flash mobs. Vodafone signal being unavailable isn't always government collusion - it's mostly just business as usual.

       

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        Yeah Right, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 5:36am

        Re: Re: Vodaphone collusion

        Oh really?

        Vodafone press realease:
        "All mobile operators in Egypt have been instructed to suspend services in selected areas. Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it. The Egyptian authorities will be clarifying the situation in due course."

        What the press release fails to mention is that Vodafone, with its subsidiaries, is the second largest ISP in Egypt, offering ADSL and broadband to millions of customers.

         

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        Yeah Right, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 9:50am

        Re: Re: Vodaphone collusion

        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.

        Nice to hear that Vodafone is such a law-abiding company. Pity it seems too pick and choose in which county to follow the law:

        2006 - Greece: Vodafone fined €76m over wiretap scandal
        2007 - Greece: Vodafone again fined €19 million
        2009 - Australia: Vodafone fined for SMS spam
        2009 - Italy: Vodafone fined over unfair advertising
        2010 - Spain: Vodafone fined for showing customer data

        Apparently, at least one Egypt ISP, Noor Group's dial-up DLS service, has not complied with the government 'request'.
        And of course, while every site in Egypt is down, the Egyptian Stock Exchange site isn't! O irony.

        As far as Vodafone is concerned, you can only come to one conclusion. How can a company that is doing big business in a highly corrupt country, do so without being very actively involved in that corruption? By simply rolling over and taking part in the most widespread internet censorship to date, Vodafone has proved that they support this, right up to the CEO. They also made sure they won't see a cent of my money, ever.

        Shame on you, Vittorio!

         

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    abc gum, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 4:37am

    ... and the prez needs a kill switch cause why?

     

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    David, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 5:21am

    Economic madness

    This news has been filtering through here in the UK.
    See:
    http://www.renesys.com/blog/2011/01/egypt-leaves-the-internet.shtml
    http://bgpmon.net/bl og/?p=450
    Sounds like the Egyptian government wants to bankrupt the country. Very short-sighted reaction.

     

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      Anonymous Coward, Jan 28th, 2011 @ 6:17am

      Re: Economic madness

      They probably want to make it difficult for people in the country to communicate, and if there are still very big demonstrations, that just will prove that the drive behind it is not the internet but the people who really, really want change.

       

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