Egypt to citizens: No Internet for you!

Well, it’s almost been a week since my last post. Bad blogger, no cookie! I’ve got a couple of ideas for posts to write up tomorrow, then I should be back in the swing of things. In the meantime, I wanted to share some news I found on Prof. Macek’s blog.

I’m sure some of you have heard about the protests and political unrest in Egypt by now. Maybe you’ve seen video of some brave protesters standing up to a water cannon. News about the situation seems to be spreading much faster on the Internet than in the mainstream media. Doubtless this is far truer in Egypt, a place where journalists and bloggers critical of the government face prison sentences.

The Egyptian government recently tried to prevent the protests from gaining momentum by censoring social networking Web sites. This behavior isn’t new or extraordinary; repressive regimes have long resorted to Internet censorship to protect their positions. Today, though, Egypt took a much more extreme step. In one swift blow, they cut off Internet access to nearly all Egyptian ISPs. At the same time, Egypt’s “counter-terror force” deployed to suspected protest sites as the rallies are expected to continue, with Friday’s protests looking to dwarf those up to this point.

As shocking and terrifying as Egypt’s recent actions are, I think they will harm the government’s cause more than they aid it. Egypt’s ruling party has made it perfectly clear that they don’t care about the will of the people—they plan to maintain control over the population by brute force. In this sense, their decision to cut off Internet service is understandable. Without network access, Egyptian citizens will find it much more difficult to plan future protests, and they’ll also be unable to easily report government atrocities to the outside world.

Yet it seems that Egypt’s decision can only add fuel to a fire that’s already burning out of control. The people of Egypt are angry, and they want a revolution. The Egyptian regime may try to tighten its grip on its citizens by cutting their links to each other and to other nations, but this will just give the citizens yet another evil to protest against. I wonder if governments will ever learn that censoring information and communication always hurts them in the long run.

About Jon

Christian, dude, geek, student, hacker, weirdo, King of Awesomeness
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2 Responses to Egypt to citizens: No Internet for you!

  1. Steve Macek says:

    You’re absolutely right, Jonathan, that in the end the Egyptian government’s decision to shut down the Internet entirely will only exacerbate an already volatile situation. Not even Iran –with its legions of secret police and Islamic fundamentalist state– went this far. Already Mubarak is getting pressure from the US and the rest of Egypt’s allies to step down and to ensure that whoever takes up the reigns of power will begin the process of reform. But it may already be too late for that.

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