Egypt: How Do You Take An Entire Nation Offline?
The Egyptian government’s shutdown of the Internet in Egypt is being called an “action unprecedented in internet history.” The government has been able to leverage its “kill switch” on the Internet by shutting off the various DNS serves used by Egyptian ISPs. This is relatively easy for the Egyptian government to do as Telecom Egypt, the nation’s dominant ISP, is state-run. This also allows the government to spy on Internet users. Telecom Egypt has been sold “real-time traffic intelligence” technology by an American firm in California called Narus. The company also provides content-filtering technology that allows network managers to inspect, track, and target internet users. Total disruption of Internet service is alleged to have been planned well in advance by the Mubarak regime after events Tunisia. This is in contrast to previous assessments by groups such as Freedom House where Egypt was classified as not engaging in widespread censorship.
Internet traffic in Egypt between January 27th and January 28th:
Craig Labovitz’s graphic representation of Egypt’s internet blackout