Did Libyan Gov't Briefly Turn Internet Access Back On To Try To Stall Rebel Attacks?

from the gotta-have-my-skype dept

The general news headlines right now are entirely about the supposed fall of the Libyan government. Of course, that's way outside of our coverage areas, but an interesting side story to all of this concerns internet access in Lybia, and the good folks at Renesys have the details about the up-and-down nature of the internet yesterday in Libya. Apparently, internet access in the country has been sporadic at best for months. It was completely off for many people -- but some folks still had access. Apparently all internet access goes through 16 blocks of IP addresses, all managed by Libyan Telecom and Technology (LTT). 11 of those blocks have mostly been down, but five have been up -- providing access to a few key areas.

However, just as many expected the a big push on Tripoli... internet access came back to everyone. There's some speculation that perhaps -- just perhaps -- the government hoped that giving people back their internet would stop them from taking to the streets and overturning the government, though that seems a bit unlikely:
And early Sunday morning, the Twitterstream suddenly began reporting something that seemed, on the face of it, totally improbable: the Internet had been turned back on.

Why would the government turn the Internet back on in the middle of an armed uprising? To get people to stay at home and catch up on five months of email? It seemed preposterous. But clearly, as more and more people realized, it had happened. Bandwidth was scarce, but DSL service was back. People started Skypeing with friends and relatives, some reporting hearing live gunfire in the background as their VoIP calls began to connect.

And then, as suddenly as it had come, Tripoli's Internet access stopped working again. For a total of perhaps an hour and a half of uptime, spread out in bursts between the hours of 2:00am and 4:30am, local time, the Internet had been functional again.
It seems more likely that this was just some sort of screwup or "solidarity" move by someone at LTT. Perhaps the details will come out in the near future. But, for now it's yet another interesting tidbit in the ongoing efforts by governments trying to use or block the internet to deal with uprisings.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:24am

    I'd like to imagine it was someone seeing the writing on the wall and turning the access back on so the whole world could see what was happening without the filter of media.

    That people could contact those on the outside and let them know they were alive and well.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  2.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:39am

    7500 attacks by NATO bombers isn't an "uprising".

    But war crimes, and the obvious goal is Libya's oil. Minimizing a massive bombinb campaign in support of armed traitors by calling it an "uprising" is far more egregious and important than whether the internet is working during it.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  3.  
    identicon
    Jake, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:40am

    If I were to venture a guess, I'd say it had to be turned on to conduct a ping test and find out how much of the network had been trashed in the fighting.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  4.  
    identicon
    out_of_the_blue, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:45am

    ^^^ "bombinb" in my post above is intentional.

    Just so dolts have something they can pick at while ignoring vastly more important matters.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  5.  
    identicon
    Aaron, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:51am

    I can imagine it

    Fight! Fight! Fight! Woooooooooo, Facebook!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  6.  
    icon
    That Anonymous Coward (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 4:53am

    Re: I can imagine it

    OMG A RARE FARMVILLE COW!
    Here hold my rifle, I need to get this.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  7.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 5:50am

    Clearly Lybia is a great country because the don't have patents.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  8.  
    icon
    Overcast (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 6:44am

    Clearly Lybia is a great country because the don't have patents.

    Yep, and obviously patents would fix all their problems. They'd be corporate owned in a week then!

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  9.  
    icon
    shawnhcorey (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 7:18am

    On the Dark Side

    Of course, it could be something more sinister. The military could have turn it back on to intercept the messages the rebels are sending to coordinate their efforts. IIRC, the UK police did something similar in their kettling of demonstrators.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  10.  
    icon
    Jeffrey Nonken (profile), Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 8:41am

    Re: ^^^ "bombinb" in my post above is intentional.

    You seem defensive.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  11.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Aug 22nd, 2011 @ 10:32am

    Turned on by accident?

    A comment at the Renesys blog has a IMHO quite plausible hypothesis: that it was turned back on by the rebooting of a router.

    At least on Cisco routers, you apply configuration changes by entering a configuration mode, doing the changes in memory, and saving them to the NVRAM. If you do not do the last step, the changes are temporary, and will disappear when the router is rebooted.

    So, it is a plausible scenario that whoever made the changes did not save them (perhaps to make it easier to go back to the normal working configuration when everything is over), and the router was rebooted by accident. Perhaps some of the fighting nearby affected the power lines, and the router suffered a power loss before the generators could kick in.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  12.  
    icon
    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 23rd, 2011 @ 9:39am

    Re:

    It was probably a hacker group turning it back on for the Lulz ...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


Add Your Comment

Have a Techdirt Account? Sign in now. Want one? Register here
Get Techdirt’s Daily Email
Save me a cookie
  • Note: A CRLF will be replaced by a break tag (<br>), all other allowable HTML will remain intact
  • Allowed HTML Tags: <b> <i> <a> <em> <br> <strong> <blockquote> <hr> <tt>
Follow Techdirt
A word from our sponsors...
Essential Reading
Techdirt Reading List
Techdirt Insider Chat
A word from our sponsors...
Recent Stories
A word from our sponsors...

Close

Email This