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Egypt Shuts Down Internet As Protests Intensify

protest in egypt
As civil unrest continues to spread and intensify across Egypt, authorities within the country have taken a drastic and apparently unprecedented step: they've shut down the entire Internet.

The blackout began at about 12:30 a.m. local time, when four of the Egypt's major service providers abruptly shut down. Calling the nationwide outage "an action unprecedented in Internet history," the U.S.-based Internet analysis firm Renesys found that the simultaneous shutdown rendered virtually every Egyptian site inaccessible, from anywhere in the world. The country's four major ISPs (Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, and Etisalat Misr) have all suspended network services, with Noor Group standing as the lone exception. (The country's stock exchange, perhaps not coincidentally, is still active at a Noor address.) According to statistics from BGPmon, a full 88-percent of the "Egyptian Internet" has been completely wiped out.

It's not unusual for authoritarian regimes to block social networking sites like Twitter and Facebook, especially when their autonomy is in jeopardy (Egypt did it earlier this week). But wiping out the entire Internet is something we've never really seen before. At this point, no one knows how the blackout will affect the trajectory of Egypt's protests, but concerns are grave, to say the least. As Google engineer Tim Bray tweeted, "I feel that as soon as the world can't use the net to watch, awful things will start happening."

Tags: blackout, egypt, egypt internet, egypt protests, EgyptInternet, EgyptProtests, middle east, MiddleEast, politics, protest, shutdown, top, Web