Government Says No Internet Allowed

February 1, 2011 at 4:37 am Leave a comment

Imagine waking up and not being able to go online to check your email, Facebook, Twitter, weather, or anything else you may routinely do daily on the internet. Furthermore, pretend that you didn’t have a cell phone anymore and you weren’t able to contact any of your family and friends. This has been a living reality for Egyptians who depend on the internet daily just as you and I. The Egyptian government has completely banned the use of the internet and some cell phone providers as well. As you can imagine, this left the country on edge and currently protests are being organized. According to one company who tracks internet traffic, “In a fundamental sense, it’s as if you rewrote the map and they are no longer a country, almost nobody in Egypt has Internet connectivity.” In one graphic it shows the time and amount of traffic going to and from Egypt up at 3,000 megabits per second and then dropping down to close to 0 within hours, if not minutes.

Internet Traffic

Companies such as Google have stepped in and tried to make it easier for the people of Egypt for them to access the information that they are used to getting daily. In one report it was said that there is now a way to leave a voicemail from your phone which will then be converted into a Tweet. Both France and Sweden have had companies within their countries that have tried to give Egyptians access by having them dial out to connect to an international connecting point. All of these ways have been used by demonstrators and protesters who are trying to coordinate a rally throughout the country. One other option that people have turned to are old Ham radios as well.

Although some countries have attempted to cutoff Internet access to their entire country before, this is one of the first times that we’ve seen it in such a time and place where so many people rely on it for daily use. Both Myanmar and Nepal have completely cutoff Internet access to their entire countries in the past and over 40 countries filter specific Internet sites or services such as China.

At this point, not only do we have to worry about the citizens of the country gaining access to all of their personal information out there on the web, but this whole situation puts countries such as the United States in a tough situation. The United States gives more foreign aid to Egypt than any other country in the world with the exception of Israel. Obviously we would not allow this type of behavior in our own country which would have many questioning as to why we’d support this elsewhere. Over the next few days, weeks, and even months it will be interesting to see how this all plays out and how this problem will get fixed. Although this seems like a minor issue that is happening halfway around the world, it is amazing to think how closely we could be connected to these people on the other side of the world with only a click of a mouse.

Find out more from the NY Times

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