Turning Off the Internet

James Glanz and John Markoff have an interesting story in The New York Times on how Hosni Mubarak managed to turn off the Internet in Egypt. This point deserves to be underlined:

For all the Internet's vaunted connectivity, the Egyptian government commanded powerful instruments of control: it owns the pipelines that carry information across the country and out into the world.

Internet experts say similar arrangements are more common in authoritarian countries than is generally recognized. In Syria, for example, the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment dominates the infrastructure, and the bulk of the international traffic flows through a single pipeline to Cyprus. Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries have the same sort of dominant, state-controlled carrier.

I got a morbid chuckle out of this vignette:

When [Ahmed ElShabrawy, who runs a company called EgyptNetwork,] noticed that domestic fiber-optic cables were open, he had a moment of exhilaration, remembering that he could link up servers directly and establish messaging using an older system called Internet Relay Chat. But then it dawned on him that he had always assumed he could download the necessary software via the Internet and had saved no copy.

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  • BakedPenguin||

    The Egyptian government's cork monopoly was how they stopped all the tubes. We can't let that happen here - buy boxed or capped wine from now on!

  • NeonCat||

    I heard they used mummified LOLcats to clog the tubes…

  • ||

    If I had a time machine, I would use it to prove that the ancient Egyptian obsession with cats was actually the original occurrence of the LOLcat meme.

    "Ramsetohep, look what I just carved on this tomb."

    "Oh my Ra, Ishtaha, LMFAO"

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    "I can haz curzez?"

  • ||

    Im in ur tumb, drinkin ur embalmin fluidz

  • ||

    im poopin!

    in ur canopic jars

  • Paul||

    I r serious cat, step into my pyramid now.

  • ||

    Thank O'Bama that can't happen here. No one in a free society like Amerika would suggest letting some government toady have a kill switch on the internet.

  • Griffin3||

    That's why you need to have the entire internet backed up on your spare drives.

  • ||

  • ||

    Dude, don't let the memes cross!

  • ||

    The Innernet.

  • Rich||

    Serious question: When will interfering with the Internet first be prosecuted as a crime against humanity?

  • The Other Kevin||

    It won't be. Because when "other" countries do it, it's interfering with human rights. When the US (or other Western) countries do it, it's done to keep us all safe.

  • Rich||

    I understand your point, TOK. However, I think you underestimate how essential the Toobz are becoming. When pulling the plug severely disrupts the lives of billions of people, there *will* be repercussions. I'm thinking fifteen years, tops.

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    I think sooner, personally.

  • The Other Kevin||

    Interesting that we are at odds with our own government on this one; as we are appalled by another government shutting down the Internet, ours is trying to get a kill switch.

  • Tim||

    They have to be able to stop the spread of bad ideas in an emergency.

  • ||

    I like feeling safe.

  • Federal InfoSec Agent||

    IRC? Why does that ring a bell...

  • Spoonman.||

    I can't get Internet access to anything hosted in Kentucky. Fark, the state government website, anything.

    So that's weird.

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    No, I think that sicko Sugar Free has something to do with that. I stumbled upon his blog...I almost didn't make it back.

  • ||

    NutraSweet is from Kentucky, but his hosting is in Texas. Pointless but interesting fact.

  • ||

    Really? That's weird.

  • ||

    Don't question me about you, dude. Don't make me hit you. You bring it on yourself.

  • Spoonman.||

    Pretty sure it was just a Rice problem, as the entire Internet was unavailable temporarily.

  • Old Mexican||

    Internet experts say similar arrangements are more common in authoritarian countries than is generally recognized.


    Soviet States of Amerika, take heed!

  • Old Mexican||

    [T]he Egyptian's government own FCC commanded powerful instruments of control: it owns the pipelines that carry information across the country and out into the world.


    FCC:"And we can own them here, too!"

  • hmm||

    When the zombies come it will be all about the HAM radio.

  • GroundTruth||

    It pays to be a ludite! I still have a copy of an IRC that works.

  • FCC||

    We must have an internet shutoff, to keep what happened in Egypt from happening here.

  • ||

    Davros couldn't do it, and neither could Mubarak.

  • ||

    When [Ahmed ElShabrawy, who runs a company called EgyptNetwork,] noticed that domestic fiber-optic cables were open, he had a moment of exhilaration, remembering that he could link up servers directly and establish messaging using an older system called Internet Relay Chat. But then it dawned on him that he had always assumed he could download the necessary software via the Internet and had saved no copy.

    Pretty sure nearly every distribution of Linux has those IRC server packages.

    Hell you could probably find it on a Mac OS X installation CD.

  • ||

    "There's a hole in my internet, dear Liza, dear Liza, there's a hole in my internet, dear Liza, a hole."

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