How Egypt did (and your government could) shut down the Internet

By Iljitsch van Beijnum
Ars Technica
Jan. 28, 2011

How hard is it, exactly, to kill the Internet? Egypt seems to have been able to do it. But Egypt's situation isn't exactly the same as that in the Western world. And even though Egypt only has four big ISPs, the fact that everything went down after midnight local time suggests that it took considerable effort to accomplish the 'Net shut-off. After all, it seems unlikely that President Hosni Mubarak ordered the Internet to be shut down as he went to bed; such a decision must have been made earlier in the day, and then taken hours to execute.

Also, the fact that such a drastic measure was deemed necessary may indicate that more targeted measures, such as blocking Twitter, didn't get the job done. This nuclear option—see below—was intended to make online coordination of anti-government action impossible; at the same time, the mushroom cloud may give protesters hope that their efforts are not in vain. As one blogger writes: "It's as if the regime has done the information aggregation for you and packaged it into a nice fat public signal."

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