Egypt disappears

Given the unrest that has flooded Egypt, it was just a matter of time before something like this happened – most of Egypt’s internet connectivity to the online world has been severed. According to BGPMon,

Looking at BGP data we can confirm that according to our analysis 88% of the ‘Egyptian Internet’ has fallen of the Internet.

(…)

Yesterday there were 2903 Egyptian networks, originated from 52  ISP’s. Transit was provided via 45 unique isp’s. Today at 2am UTC, the numbers look quite different, there were only 327 Egyptian networks left on the Internet. These were originated 26 by ISP’s.

This behavior is something that we have been seeing more and more frequently. The latest was the crackdown on the use of Internet during the Tunisian and Iranian unrest. As the penetration and ubiquitous nature of the Internet deepens, we will see it playing a critical role of being the major dissemination and organization medium. Countries in which Internet filtering is currently implemented at a nation-wide level will find it a very “attractive” option to severe the connectivity as a measure of denying the organisers of the “unrest” their medium of choice. This has happened (passively) for years in China, recently in Iran, Tunisian and Egypt and could happen in a majority of Middle Eastern nations where such infrastructure exists.

The OpenNet Initiative map on Internet filtering is very interesting in this aspect. A study done by the same organisation in 2008-2009 found no presence of systemic Internet filtering in place in India, unlike in China, Burma and Vietnam (in Asia). A healthy and unfiltered Internet is turning out to be a key driver for a robust democratic set up. Indian lawmakers should be very cautious when dealing with any proposed plans to place filtering systems on Indian part of the cyberspace.

On a side-note, it is interesting to observe that according to the research conducted by the same OpenNet Initiative, countries like Tunisia uses software developed by American companies for the filtering mechanism. While the export of cryptography is controlled in the US, there does not seem to be any plans to have similar regulation regarding export of software that endangers freedom of expression.

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