Egypt’s Government Shuts Down Internet

Posted on January 28, 2011 by

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The Huffington Post reports that as of yesterday the government has taken down the Internet in Egypt, just hours before the largest planned protests yet. Cell phone text messages are not working either. No one knows exactly what will happen next. The Renesys blog comments:

What happens when you disconnect a modern economy and 80,000,000 people from the Internet? What will happen tomorrow, on the streets and in the credit markets? This has never happened before, and the unknowns are piling up.

It’s probably no coincidence that the government reacted after a video of a protestor being shot was posted online. Apparently the police just couldn’t control themselves and had to resort to violence to keep the protesters quiet:

Tuesday’s demonstration, the largest Egypt has seen for years, began peacefully, with police showing unusual restraint in what appeared to be a calculated strategy by the government to avoid further sullying the image of a security apparatus widely seen as little more than corrupt thugs in uniforms.

But as crowds filled downtown Cairo’s Tahrir Square – waving Egyptian and Tunisian flags and adopting the same protest chants that rang out in the streets of Tunis – security personnel changed tactics and the protest turned violent.

Corrupt thugs in uniforms — what else did they expect from people who are working for a monopoly on violence? If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that those who think that governments are not in a position to use large-scale violence against its own citizens in the age of Internet should think again.

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