Yesterday Syria fell off the Internet. Clean cut. Then it came back. Why was it cut? Why did it come back?
Gyanendra’s Law states that those who pull the killswitch do not remain in power too long. Supporting this thesis, Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad has kept his hands off the killswitch for the most part, except at the start of the civil war, and today. Four physical cables connect Syria to the Internet — three under the sea, and the fourth over land through Turkey. For outsiders to cause Tuesday’s outage, security experts say, they would have had to physically cut all four cables simultaneously. That does not appear to have happened in this case, according to security experts.
We’ve had some discussion about the effects of killswitch on this blog. Here is a discussion about full and partial killswitch effects with some nice graphics. When you deliver nearly a third of global Web traffic, you get to see a lot of crazy stuff happen. Akamai Technologies (NASDAQ: AKAM), the global Internet traffic provider, is giving us a glimpse at some of those wild scenarios today in its latest “State of the Internet” report. The company, based in Cambridge, MA, tracks a wide variety of statistics in its quarterly reports, including domestic and global Internet speeds, mobile connectivity, unique IP addresses, and attacks by hackers.
Syria has plunged into cyber darkness, as the Asad regime has pulled the plug on Internet gateways. Yet, the regime blames the “terrorists” for sabotaging the connectivity. Three submarine cables have landed in Syria (Click on the picture). The country is also plugged with Turkey through a terrestrial link. Therefore, even a drunken vagabond would not believe the Syrian minister of (mis)information.
So it appears the al Assad government is becoming more like the Mubarak government. The Internet shutdown severely disrupted the flow of the YouTube videos and Facebook and Twitter posts that have allowed protesters and others to keep track of demonstrations, since foreign news media are banned and state media are heavily controlled. Both land lines and cellphones are so frequently monitored by Syria’s feared secret police that Skype had become a major means of communication among activists, and its loss as a tool may be a blow to the protest movement. Government Web sites, including those for the Ministry of Oil and the state news agency, SANA, remained online. Two-thirds of Syria’s Internet network went offline at 6:35 a.
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 to have open access to Facebook and YouTube, according to Syrian activists and digital privacy experts. Security officials are moving on multiple fronts — demanding dissidents turn over their Facebook passwords and switching off the 3G mobile network at times, sharply limiting the ability of dissidents to upload videos of protests to YouTube, according to several activists in Syria. And supporters of President Bashar al-Assad, calling themselves the Syrian Electronic Army, are using the same tools to try to discredit dissidents. In contrast to the Mubarak government in Egypt, which tried to quash dissent by shutting down the country’s entire Internet, the Syrian government is taking a more strategic approach, turning off electricity and telephone service in neighborhoods with the most unrest, activists say.
It’s fascinating how the game is getting played out in Syria, one of the most brutal Arab dictatorships. The regime learned from Egypt. But so did the resistance. The regime monitors the networks and periodically shuts/slows them down. But the counter move of smuggling in hundreds of satellite phones had already negated that move.
North Korea is part of Asia. LIRNEasia should at least think about this strange country as it goes about its work. The connectivity of North Korea is described below: The Internet Black Hole That Is North Korea – New York Times “This is an impoverished country where televisions and radios are hard-wired to receive only government-controlled frequencies. Cellphones were banned outright in 2004. In May, the Committee to Protect Journalists in New York ranked North Korea No.
Arab Mobile Phone Subscriptions Jump 70% in 2005 Source: www.cellular-news.com/story/18589.php The number of mobile phone subscriptions in the Arab world has grown by a whopping 70 percent in 2005, underlining a strong consumer demand coupled by increased liberalization and competition in Arab telecom markets, according to a recently published Madar Research study. The study also reveals that Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have achieved mobile phone penetration levels among their population that are comparable with those prevalent in Europe and Pacific Rim countries.