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Tag Archives: kill switch

FCC seeks to define when mobile networks can be turned off

Assailing the shutting off of mobile networks in Egypt and Libya and then allowing the same to be done by the Bay Area Rapid Transit Authority was hypocritical. But American hypocrisy has limits. They have launched a public-comment process to define the terms. When will we see such actions in the developing world? The Federal […]

Cameron joins Mubarak?

It seems that all governments under threat fear communication media. Instead of the kill switch, Cameron of the UK seems to be proposing a narrower ban: social media use by miscreants. How does this work? Does the government know who is planning mayhem and who is not? Does it shut down base stations in affected […]

Targeted shutdowns of mobile networks in China

China is a big country. By definition, its ethnic conflicts are localized. The newest is Inner Mongolia. And the mobile networks are being shut down, only in the affected region: “First they shut down our Internet, then they interrupted our cellphone service and finally they imprisoned us at school,” said the student, an intense, foppishly […]

The al-Assad variation

The al-Assad government in Syria appears to be responding to the use of ICTs by citizens unhappy with the political status quo more intelligently than its fallen counterpart in Egypt. The Syrian government is cracking down on protesters’ use of social media and the Internet to promote their rebellion just three months after allowing citizens […]

Cameroon: Twitter shut down to “protect the nation”

It seems like overkill when there are only 50 subscribers to Twitter in the whole country, but the Cameroon President seems ultra insecure. He should be, perhaps. He has been in the same job since 1982, a West African Ben Ali. And predictably, the Minister of Communication has equated the President’s security with that of […]

Shall we all agree to let the Internet be a free space for expression?

Since Harvard Forum II, we have been engaged in a low-key conversation about the liberating potential for ICTs, especially networks. For understandable reasons, the pace has picked up in recent times, especially in relation to the use of the kill switch by cornered tyrants. Now here’s a piece that is relevant to the discussion about […]

Breaking the chokehold on communication

In a recent piece in Himal, I summarized the ideas I have been developing on the nation state and its control of telecom networks used by its citizens. The thesis was that in countries above a certain threshold of electronic connectivity, shutting down networks was futile. The regime would fall. Now here’s a new spin. […]

Toure supports Gyanendra’s Law

The Secretary General of the International Telecommunication Union is elected every four years by governments who have paid their dues to the Union (or have had it paid on their behalf). This does not make him a natural advocate of anything revolutionary. Yet, this is what he says: There is no alternative, suggests the secretary […]

China: Short of throwing the kill switch

Did China shut down the telecom system during the Tiananmen crackdown in 1989? There was no Internet to shut down back then. This time around, they seem to be adopting a gradualist response, according to NYT: The words “Jasmine Revolution,” borrowed from the successful Tunisian revolt, were blocked on sites similar to Twitter and on […]

Can Qaddafi buck Gyanendra’s law?

Countries that have a level of international connectivity above that of Burma and North Korea have so far been subject to Gyanendra’s Law. You pull the kill switch. You look for a new job. Now Muammar Qaddafi has decided to the test the law. Libya’s main Internet service provider, General Post and Telecommunications Company, began […]

Gyanendra’s Law affirmed

Gyanendra’s Law states that a government that shuts down its entire national telecom network does not survive. The resignation of Hosni Mubarak affirms the law. Named for the last King of Nepal. Could have been called Jaruselzki’s Law, but Nepal could do with some visibility one thinks. And it is a toss-up which tyrant’s name […]

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 […]

Role of ICTs in revolution

Telephone networks were shut down when Lech Walesa was leading the workers of Gdansk against the Polish government in the early 1980s. King Gyanendra shut down the mobile networks of Nepal a few years back. It is not the first time that telecom networks have been shut down by governments with their backs to the […]

Kill switch workaround

Looks like it’s not enough to shut down the Internet. You got to shut down all the mobile networks too. Unedited, raw, anonymous and emotional, Egyptian voices are trickling out through a new service that evades attempts by the authorities to suppress them by cutting Internet services. There is still some cellphone service, so a […]

Kill switch in Egypt

I never expected an economy as advanced as that of Egypt to shut down the Internet. But it did. Not completely, as shown by the Figure in the Wired article that I have taken the excerpt below from. Egypt’s largest ISPs shut off their networks Thursday, making it impossible for traffic to get to websites […]

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