Egypt demonstrates why the Internet is unreliable

On Thursday, January 27th at 22:34 UTC (about 4:30 PM, NY time) Egypt cut off outside access to the internet.  According to Renesys:

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 Approximately 3,500 individual BGP routes were withdrawn, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt’s service providers.

Go and read the entire article.  Notice how the government asked and the ISP corporations complied.  This is in response to massive riots and uprisings in Cairo and other cities which may topple the government.   Think that the internet and new media alone can keep our government honest and doing the people’s work?  Think again.  Net Neutrality is a pipe dream and would do nothing to stop this type of censorship regardless.

A free press is one of the critical legs of our democracy.  Traditional broadcasting and media have been decimated in the last 15 years.  They are not without fault, cutting staff, politically slanted reporting, and profit-taking has done their part.  Fortunately, while staff have disappeared, the infrastructure (networks, transmitters, printing presses) remains in place.  They need to be revitalized and utilized.  There is a trend that I and others have noticed where small operators, perhaps one or two stations at most, are providing excellent service to their respective communities and running circles around other, group-owned stations in the same market.

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4 thoughts on “Egypt demonstrates why the Internet is unreliable”

  1. Where there is a wire or fiber-optic cable, and somebody controlling it, corruption along with censorship is possible. Domestic radio broadcasting has shifted from a huge diversity of ownership to a few group conglomerates and networks. The Internet isn’t much different if a President can order an Internet shutdown which is a proposed bill in the U.S. Congress. It is these media bums who are cozy with the government, and will ‘go along to get along’. Jesse Ventura seems to like Mexico, and maybe a return of the English speaking “border blasters” might just be an alternative newsworthy source. And of course there is shortwave, but probably not enough people who know about it or have receivers.

  2. Yes, sadly, while this government chastises the Egyptian government for cutting off the internet, they are considering doing the same thing themselves with the Internet Kill Switch bill. You just can’t make this stuff up.

  3. Someday, I hope we will learn more about the role “traditional” broadcast media (esp. radio) has played in the uprising – especially after losing the ‘net.

  4. John, that is an interesting angle. According to the CIA World Factbook:

    mix of state-run and private broadcast media; state-run TV operates 2 national and 6 regional terrestrial networks as well as a few satellite channels; about 20 private satellite channels and a large number of Arabic satellite channels are available via subscription; state-run radio operates about 70 stations belonging to 8 networks; 2 privately-owned radio stations operational (2008)

    According to several websites, there are about 10-12 FM stations in Cairo, about 7 of them stream audio and as of this morning, none of them where accessible from NY. Radio Cairo International (shortwave) also appears to be off the air. That station is state owned, still, it would be interesting to hear them on the air, I’ll set a preset on my radio and check back often.

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