In light of the severe Internet disruptions that are happening in Egypt, where the government cut off all Internet access and SMS messages in and out of the country in an attempt to silence the 80 million people living there, we've seen a number of technologies come up to break the blockade. People have been using ham radios, satellite phones, and fax machines to make their voices heard. Now, Google and Twitter have partnered up over the weekend to create a phone-to-tweet service, where people from Egypt can make calls to an international number, and their messages will be tweeted automatically. Yet another example that proves you can't silence an entire people, and the communication always finds a way. Very cool.
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With reports of Egypt's government completing shutting down the Internet in the country, talk about an "Internet kill switch" bill in the U.S. has reemerged. Could it happen here?
The bill in question is the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act of 2010, a cyber-security measure introduced in June by Sen. Joseph Lieberman. It was an over-arching cyber-security measure that, among other things, would create an office of cyberspace policy within the White House and a new cyber-security center within the Homeland Security Department.
A provision that got the most attention, however, was one that gave the president the power to "authorize emergency measures to protect the nation's most critical infrastructure if a cyber vulnerability is being exploited or is about to be exploited."
Some interpreted that to mean that the president would have the authority to shut off the Internet at random. Lieberman refuted the "Internet kill switch" assertion as "misinformation" during an appearance on CNN, and the Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee, which he chairs, later published a "myth vs. reality" fact sheet on the bill.
As the violence and protests develop in Egypt, Renesys, an Internet research firm, published a fascinating overview of what happened to the country's Internet connections. At 22:34 UTC, all the entry points into the country were cut in a matter of minutes. The four major Internet providers in Egypt were ordered to cut all links, by removing the 3,500 routes that packets could take, leading to no valid path for the traffic to reach any addresses inside of the country, save for one small network. Almost a day later, they estimate that around 93% of traffic is still cut off.
Unlike earlier protests in Tunisia and other countries, where governments tried unsuccessfully to block invidual sites like Twitter and Facebook, people still finding ways around the blocks through proxies, this time the complete isolation from the global Internet was an unprecedented event. It's still not known what will happen to the economy of the country if these measures stay for longer than a few days.
Read More | Renesys