Egypt's Internet Kill Switch


Here's what happens when a dictator has access to an off-switch for an entire country's Internet: Via the Committee to Protect Journalists, a visual representation of Egypt's Internet traffic on January 27th.

The swell is almost as interesting as the dropoff. Traffic looks to have roughly tripled in the space of just a few hours before it was cut down to nothing. The graph's creator, Craig Labovitz, the chief scientist of Arbor Networks, explains that this is a "graph of Egyptian Internet traffic across a large number of geographically and topologically diverse providers on January 27th." 

Update: The original graph contained a typo and only a single day's worth of data. The folks at Arbor Networks sent along an updated version:

NEXT: Start the Revolution Without Anybody

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  1. Fascinating. But do you really for a moment think that will change the desire for a similar kill switch in the hands of the US government? Do you think for a moment that a graph like that will sway the congress critters away from doing what is necessary to protect the internet and the American people? Do you think for a moment that this is more than a blip (if that) on most American’s consciousness while they tune into the important things like Jersey Shore?

    I don’t.

    1. The U.S. is not Egypt.

      1. Not for lack of trying.

        And you either support them, or you’re here to waste our time. Either way, fuck you.

        1. Fuck me? That’s original.

          1. fuck you and fuck the police.

            1. Fuck imhotep

              1. Fuck everyone, let God sort them out!

                1. Fuck everyone, find out the results from Maury Povich?

  2. Looks about right to me.

  3. Instapundit makes a good point about this. This is a good reason to keep a dialup modem and the numbers and ways to sign onto the internet say in Canada or Mexico. It is a lot harder to shut down the phone system than the internet.

    1. Don’t most motherboards still come with a built in dialup modem?

      1. Not if you’re a Mac user.

        This is one reason why, despite my devotion to Apple, I also still have a closet full of old PCs.

        1. I have a USB modem for my macbook pro.

    2. It probably wouldn’t be too hard to shut down phone calls to foreign numbers.

    3. I still have a free NetZero account I can access with dialup. Don’t know if I that would be affected, or not.

    4. I just realized. I don’t have a landline and neither does any neighbor that I know. Dailup would be impossible for me. I might be able to find someone nearby that had one, but I don’t know if they would let the whole neighborhood use it.

      1. Oh shit, that’s right. I switched to Vonage.

        …but I don’t know if they would let the whole neighborhood use it.

        At 56k, how many people could use it, realistically?

        1. Disable graphics in the browser and use just hyperlinks. Not pretty but functional.

      2. This is precisely why I keep my landline, old analog stuff, and still request paper trails of everything when possible.

        I would love to see, just for one day, all these young people, college students and other people completely dependent on WI-FI, Skype and every other digital “need” function without them.

        I am sure exceptionally intelligent and resourceful people such as Tulpa would have little trouble functioning in such an event.

        1. Analog, what’s that? A phenethylamine?

        2. Damn straight. I even have a stack of dirty magazines to tide me over if they ever cut off the electricity.

          1. That’s disgusting. Get a dust devil and clean them.

          2. You’re one up on Suderman.

            (see above)

      3. What about TCP/IP over shortwave? Slow as balls but still functional for text communication. If not TCP/IP then just RTTY? That said, I don’t have the equipment for this.

        1. Ham radio, too. I know a Ham nerd, but unfortunately, his rig doesn’t have the power to pick up Egypt.

          1. It’s not halal.

        2. How about an out-of-country satellite provider?

    5. Every little bit helps, I suppose, but the minuscule percentage of the population who now have the requisite foresight to thus prepare and would then have the requisite techie wherewithal to connect and configure dial-up internet access would be laughably short of the critical mass necessary to front a cogent response to anything.

    6. while I do have a teleterminal (print only, 300 baud, uses an acoustic coupler)I don’t see that being much use as the gov’t should also be able to readily shut down int’l calling. Its all fiber and data now.

      What people should be doing is getting ham radio licenses as well as keeping a shortwave radio handy.

  4. I think a graph like that will actually encourage the powers-that-be to implement a kill switch for themselves. I can imagine them drooling for it right now!

    1. Because it is working out so well for Mubarrek

      1. Yeah, the country, and the world, would be in chaos without the internet. The worldwide economic impact of shutting down all e-commerce in the US, even for a day, would be profound. A lot of other jobs, including my own, depend on email communications. Heck, most people use the internet to look up phone numbers now. Even if your land-lined worked, doubt you’d get very far dialing random numbers.


    get internet access when the government shuts it down

    1. This is interesting, citizen…..very interesting!

    2. A mesh network is not the internet.

      1. Any node that has internet access can share it (or at least data) with the rest of the mesh.

    3. Meh, I was gonna read the article, but I think I’ll just wait til it happens. I don’t really need to know until then.

  6. so no ISPs in Egypt are makeing any money right now?

    1. They got paid last month.

  7. Don’t worry, we’ll always keep open with my latest photo ops.

  8. Good thing Mubarak’s not a dictator, or this kind of thing might be viewed as oppressive.

  9. I “liked” this post.

  10. “Apples and Oranges.” -Joe Lieberman
    “Eggs and Omelets.” -Hosni Mubarak

    Only one analogy applies.

  11. Maybe it was just that their shitty servers failed with all of that traffic.

  12. Off-topic. Yet another reason why public education is immoral:

    Ohio Mom Gets Jail Time For Sending Kids to Suburban School

    1. How about?…..&comments;
      Mom deemed too religious to homeschool daughter, forced to send her to public school.

      1. Jesus. Since the Balko post today wasn’t that hard of a nut punch, you guys are trying to make up for it?

    2. That was already written up in an H&R post a few days ago.

  13. I doubt the dialup plan would work, guys. Those phone systems are run by intricate computer-driven systems. If you think for a second there wouldn’t also be some “technical problem” with the phone system when our government decides to kill the internet, then you’re living in Fantasyland.

    1. Loves company.

      1. What, you think the switchboards still exist in a physical sense? Shutting down the interwebs in case of Cairo-like riots here would most certainly include the networks running the phone, cable and sat tv systems.

        Do you really think otherwise?

        1. You could shut down the internet and phones relatively easily. Cable and sat would be a little tougher – especially foreign sat services. You couldn’t shut down broadcasts at all. You’d have to either kill the sources of information individually or you’d have to jam the entire spectrum everywhere.

    2. I don’t see why shutting down the internet or the phones make any sense if you want to maintain power in any real sense of the word.

      Even if everyone in the armed services went along with some kind of overt totalitarian oppression of their own country, you can’t hope to enforce martial law in even 1/4th of the United States. Our armed services just isn’t large enough. The police would maybe help hold large cities but again, that’s assuming the police forces would cooperate.

      Without the internet or phones, you’d pretty much need martial law everywhere. It wouldn’t just be an issue of controlling certain rebellious regions of the country. Hardly any employers would function without a means to communicate over long distances. Everybody would be angry as hell with suddenly a whole lot of free time on their hands.

  14. I don’t care, I still want one.

    Oh, and high speed rail.

    1. We’ll fuel the trains with green power! It will create millions of 21st Century jobs! We’ll pay for it all with the savings from Obamacare! Win The Future!

      1. Obama needs to add Overcoming Modern Goals to his Win The Future schtick.

        Personally, I think OMG/WTF sounds better. My 12 y/o daughter and 10 y/o son agree.

        1. Reeducation Or Full Lobotomy

  15. Why does everyone think keeping a dialup modem handy will help you? You still have to dial into an ISP. Do you think they’re going to continue to route Internet traffic for dialup users and not cable/DSL/FIOS/cellphone users? C’mon. *Maybe* if you get a dialup account from Canada or other foreign country.

    1. Does anyone really think Canada can still function at all if we shut down?

      1. Canada will probably not be able to dial out, but there local internet should function just fine. If you could connect to Canadian internet, you’d have access to their news sources as well as communication with any other Americans that can reach it.

  16. The graph shows internet activity slowing to a trickle after the “kill switch”. But things don’t trickle when they’re dead.

    It looks like the kill switch is only partially effective; this gives me hope.

    1. It just means the government still has access and they’re using theirs to communicate….and possibly anyone savvy enough to hack into theirs.

    2. Your hair keeps growing two weeks after you die.

      1. So the manscaping I do on my deathbed will all be for naught?

  17. It was noted that ONE provider contined to have connectivity in and out of Egypt, because of their clients, which included the Egyptian stock exchange and financial markets.

  18. That’s crazy.

    BTW this Fort Lauderdale Hilton kinda su

  19. If nothing else, a case for diversifying your communications. Hopefully, we’re never reduced to a TP, fire & rug for communications; hard to download movies at that speed.

  20. How does this graph compare to the average day?

    Some kind of perspective, or scale, would make it much more clear to the reader if we were looking at an unusual anomoly, or if we were looking at a normal day’s internet use suddenly choked off.

    We see internet use pick up as the day moves forward, but that’s probably typical, wouldn’t you think?

    When is the normal time for peak daily activity?

    1. Are you serious? Are you serious!?!?

  21. God, you stupid fucks deserve to have your internet access blocked. You’re just as bad as the rioters in Egypt.

    Just accept whatever happens, because it’s for the good of society.

    1. We are worse than the rioters. I hate my internet.

      1. Edwin, do you need a new career? We need to talk.

        1. Whatever that poseur is offering you, Edwin… we’ll *triple* it.

  22. YapYapYap!

  23. Anyone government goon who has an internet kill-switch is a dictator.

    You listening, Obama, you fucker?

      1. Can you look for sex buddies somewhere else?

        1. I’m open-minded, JB!

          1. You’d better take off your fucking hat first!

            1. Fuckin’ a!

  24. Downright scary when you think about it dude.

  25. Wow, downright scary when you think about it.

  26. Dangerous, anti-government teabaggers taking to the streets in Cairo.

    In Egypt an internet kill switch is surely not a sign of illegitimacy, for in the US it is a sign of prudence.

  27. 1) Hit the switch
    2) Disable Internetz
    3) Receive Riots.


    I mean, is the Egyptian government really so stupid? Or is it?

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