5 Ways to Get Live Info about Egypt Protests Online
By Ian Paul
The Egyptian government shut down access to the Internet early Friday morning, affecting about 88 percent of the country’s online networks. While blackouts of selected sites such as YouTube, Facebook, and Google are common in countries with autocratic and totalitarian governments, this appears to be the first time a government tried to shut down all Internet access.
Internet monitoring firm Rensys was first to notice the digital blackout a little after midnight Friday Egypt time. The network shutdown appears to affect Egypt’s four major ISP providers, including Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, and Etisalat Misr. Rensys called Egypt’s near-total Internet blackout “an action unprecedented in Internet history.”
Vodafone has issued a statement about Internet service in Egypt saying, “All mobile operators in Egypt have been instructed to suspend services in selected areas. Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it. The Egyptian authorities will be clarifying the situation in due course.”
It’s not clear why the Egyptian government decided to cut off Internet service, but presumably it was done to stifle communication among people who have taken to the streets demanding the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. The recent revolution in Tunisia that led to the ouster of President Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali was credited at least in part to Tunisia’s Net-savvy youth who traded information about protests, riots, and the police’s response on Facebook and Twitter. Egypt’s government may have hoped to avoid mass protests by cutting off access to the Internet, but it appears taking most of the country offline has only inflamed government opposition.
Even though Internet access in Egypt is blacked out, you can still find a fair amount of live information about the protests online. Here are five ways to still find out what’s going on in Egypt from people who are close to the action:
Live Video Stream
Al Jazeera English has a live video stream showing the latest video shots and still images from protests that are rocking the North African country.