Saturday, February 19, 2011

Internet Disruptions in Libya And Bahrain

Two authoritarian governments facing a growing tide of protests, trying to disrupt the protesters by cutting back on their ability to communicate with each other. If failed in Egypt and it will fail to work there as well. The success or failure of these revolutionary movements will come down to one factor; will the military fire indiscriminately into peacefully marching crowds or refuse the order.

"As protests continue in Bahrain, data suggests that access to many websites has been restricted there.

Arbor Networks, a security research company that tracks Internet traffic, told The New York Times on Friday that traffic into and out of Bahrain has dropped between 10% and 20% below expected levels. Traffic normally only drops that low during natural disasters or global sporting events.

The graph below shows Bahrain’s Internet traffic levels this week compared to average traffic levels during the previous three weeks. The traffic this week has been significantly lower than usual. Arbor Networks told The Times that it couldn’t absolutely rule out technical difficulties as a cause for the drop, though the most likely cause was blocked websites.

"According to numerous reports around the web tonight, Internet access in Libya has been shut down.

Facebook, Twitter and other sites, including Al Jazeera’s website, have been reported as blocked for several hours already; however, in a brief bulletin in The Los Angeles Times, we read that the entire Internet has been cut off in a situation similar to that seen in Egypt just weeks ago.

UPDATE: This statement seems to be confirmed by a complete drop-off in Google search traffic originating in Libya. Thanks to Google search exec Matt Cutts for pointing out this data:

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