Friday, January 28, 2011

Egypt Shuts Down (Blocks) The Entire Internet

This goes well beyond restricting access to Twitter, FaceBook, or YouTube. Egypt has completely shut down the internet leaving its citizens unable to access any website. It also prevents them from broadcasting information to each other or the world. The unprecedented move is a horrendous signal in more ways then one. There is a revolution boiling over in the country and cutting off communication usually means they are about to crack down hard; hard enough that they know their actions if transmitted could galvanize opposition and garner wide spread condemnation from the rest of the world.

There are three sides to watch for; the current authoritarian regime, an fundamental Islamic revolution, and more western-style democratic revolution. I fear that this move hurts the last of those three more than the others.

"in an action unprecedented in Internet history, the Egyptian government appears to have ordered service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet. Critical European-Asian fiber-optic routes through Egypt appear to be unaffected for now. But every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.

At 22:34 UTC (00:34am local time), Renesys observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet's global routing table. Approximately 3,500 individual BGP routes were withdrawn, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt's service providers. Virtually all of Egypt's Internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide."

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