Egypt cuts off the internet even as violence erupts in Cairo: Landlines used to connect to European ISPs

January 31, 2011, By Shawn Wagnon

The whole story probably can be summed up in a simple sentence by saying that “The government bluffed and the people called on it”. You can only go that far in the modern times by blocking the internet and Egypt might be finding that out sooner than they expected. Egypt have blocked off all internet services in the country since last midnight and now they are finding out that people are using other methods to leak out information anyway. So maybe it is time to put the net back on map!

We will not talk about social, political or economic ramifications of the situation in Egypt, though everyone feels equally at aghast with the violence on the streets of Cairo. But technology has meant that things will not go unnoticed and Egypt just cannot keep blocking the net for a considerable period of time. Experts have speculated that Egypt has withdrawn all BGP routes from the internet and refused queries to DNS servers in order to take out internet access for Cairo and rest of the country.

Unlike many who might be led to believe, there apparently was no actual physical pulling of plugs or cutting of networks and for good reason to. If that had happened, then along with Egypt, much of link between Europe and Asia would have been lost as Egypt carries the cables across the region (Suez Canal). Moreover, the country’s top heads seem to understand that they will eventually have to get back on the net map sooner than later and that means any infrastructure damage is not welcome.

People have already found other ways to communicate and latest reports indicate that text messaging is retuning slowly in some places. So, while the battle gets bloodier on the streets, it would be only foolish of the men in power to think they can control the flow of information in this time and age by just blocking the internet. Hoping that the net and the nation are back to normal soon…

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