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What is the level of competition that makes a kill switch tough to throw?

How many Internet providers does your country have? If five your government can do a Mubarak. However many you have, if they all go through one or two choke points as in Bangladesh, easy.

The big lesson of Egypt may be less the danger of overmighty government than what it shows about how national authorities can (and can’t) close down the internet. The authorities there simply told internet service providers (ISPs) to switch off their computers. The bulk of Egyptian internet surfers use only five providers. In less competitive markets, even fewer need be nobbled. In America, by contrast, the top five ISPs account for only half the market and the top ten for 70%. An American internet shutdown would require the co-operation or coercion of many hundreds of companies and individuals.

This and other ruminations on the Egyptian kill switch from the Economist.


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