Egyptian Authorities Shut Off Internet
Realizing that the Internet is force of great power, Egyptian officials essentially shut it down late Thursday night, cutting off millions of Egyptians from the rest of the world. Up until then, they had been using Facebook and Twitter to get the word out about demonstrations on the streets of Cairo, Alexandria and other cities in the Middle Eastern country. Many Web sites that are based on servers in Egypt have gone totally blank.
According to The Guardian, this is how the Internet shutdown was accomplished:
The shutdown involved the withdrawal of more than 3,500 Border Gateway Protocol (BGP) routes by Egyptian ISPs, according to Renesys, a networking firm. Only one ISP out of 10, Noor Data Networks, appeared largely unaffected. It connects to the outside world via an undersea cable operated by Telecom Italia. According to BGPMon, another networking firm, 88 per cent of Egyptian internet access was successfully shut down, however.
But somehow word still gets through by people using proxy software to Facebook and Twitter about conditions in Egypt. Reports say that landline phone service has been shut down in some Egyptian cities, though it's unclear whether the government is behind that or whether lines are just too overloaded to handle all the traffic.
Cellular telephone service providers were ordered to shut off service in parts of Egypt, said a statement from Vodafone, a cell carrier that provides service there.
A major halt in Internet connectivity came at 5:26 p.m. E.T. when servers in Egypt were taken offline, according to a report by Internet monitoring organization BGPmon. Six minutes later, the Committee to Protect Journalists reported that 10 of its contacts vanished at the same time from instant-messaging systems.
Some people have compared Egypt's blackout of services to Iran's during that country's summer of protests last year. However, Egypt's infrastructure is more sophisticated than Iran's. Yet, only about 10 companies keep the country connected, so a government-ordered shutdown could happen quite easily.
Meanwhile, the Egyptian government denies that it's censoring Web sites.
Protests in Egypt are over target 82-year-old leader Hosni Mubarak. The protesters say their standard of living is poor and they are demanding basic amenities such as affordable food.