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Egypt Cuts the Net, Net Fights Back 232

GMGruman writes "Egypt's cutoff of the Net enrages the Netizenry, who are finding a bunch of ways — high tech and low tech — to fight back, from dial-up to ham radio, from mesh networks to Twitter. Robert X. Cringely shows how the Net war is being waged, and asks, Could it happen at home, too?" Sure, it could. On the same topic, reader dermiste writes "In reaction to the Egyptian government crackdown on the Internet, the French non-profit ISP French Data Network set up a dial-up Internet access. This way, anyone in Egypt who has access to a analog phone line and can call France is able to connect to the network using the following number: +33 1 72 89 01 50 (login: toto, password: toto)."
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Egypt Cuts the Net, Net Fights Back

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  • For how long (Score:3, Insightful)

    by cdp0 ( 1979036 ) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:17AM (#35042088)

    This way, anyone in Egypt who has access to a analog phone line and can call France is able to connect to the network [...]

    I'm wondering for how long will the international phone lines work. The gvt. is most likely able to cut those too. Remaining options will then be HAM radio, GSM roaming, if you are close enough to a border and you are lucky to be in the range of a GSM base station from across (but I have no idea about the situation in Egypt), and satellite phone.

  • by petes_PoV ( 912422 ) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:34AM (#35042164)
    People like to think of the internet as the answer to "the man" and that it has a grass-roots connection to people that allows them to multiply their effectiveness at bringing "people power" to bear. Is there really any truth in that? Although it's a popular meme among advocates, it does sound unlikely.

    For a start, the greater the technological advancement, the more dependent it is on a larger number of underlying functions. That makes it vulnerable not only to someone hitting the kill switch, but to government agents (of whom we can safely assume there are many infiltrated amongst any overthrow plot) sending out false information under the guise of "the people" Whether that's reports saying things are different from what they really are, or sabotaging rallies by sending people tot he wrong place - the problem with believing an anonymous source (on twitter, say) is that they're anonymous: you can never be sure they truly represent who they say they do.

    So, while there is/was obviously some use of the internet by some people in Egypt, I would think that its main effect has been to deliver part of the story to outsiders (whether news organisations or just people) rather than to get things going within the country itself. As such, if the only way we have of getting information is through the internet we naturally (and mistakenly) presume that is also how people inside are getting information, too. There appears to already have been quite enough groundswell without the need for smartphones or websites.

  • by bogjobber ( 880402 ) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:37AM (#35042172)
    I can't imagine that somebody who set up a wireless mesh network or hacked his satellite TV is going to be very focused on reporting the technical details of what he's doing to the foreign press. There's a revolution happening and the Egyptian government is cracking down hard on protesters.
  • by bogjobber ( 880402 ) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:47AM (#35042200)

    I would disagree with you that the main effect of the internet in Egypt has been to deliver news to outsiders. While internet access is blocked now, the use of social media has been instrumental in informing the population and organizing protests for quite a while. See the April 6 Youth Movement []. (Sorry, my work blocks most sites so I can't give a more informative reference than that wikipedia article).

    This is a movement that has been years in the making. I imagine a large number of the people involved in the protests (who are largely young, educated people who would have internet access) became interested and involved well before the protests of the last few days.

  • by mad flyer ( 589291 ) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @09:51AM (#35042218)

    you are in denial or full of shit...

    Just look at what's happening, how it started and how it's being conducted... The net was not shutdown in egypt without reason... Denying it's usefulness as an insurectional tool or saying it lack reliability is just stupidity or attention whoring "HEY look at me ! i'm going against the flow!!!"

    One thing for a start, multiple report from multiple source have more chance to give a good picture than any official newsgroup. It's chaos, propaganda and truth have the same 'timeslot' on the net... it's usually not difficult in these case to see that something is going on, maybe not precisely, but enough to get some part of the big picture...

    I'm getting really tired of smartasses like you, you have nothing of any value to add, just bucket loads of improbable "what if" that you try to pass as reasonable analysis...

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 29, 2011 @10:39AM (#35042404)

    Ok, so what you're saying is that all we have to do is trust your judgment on what is the lesser of two evils? I'm not sure that's good enough.

    Especially not for those people that are tortured and murdered daily by the countless regimes that the U.S. keeps in power.

    You see your argument can justify involvement with any level of evil, and it suggests that your moral compass is not just flexible, but broken.

    And has anyone noticed that the first place that America's "friends" are heading to when they're ejected by their own people; yes its Saudi Arabia - surely the most brutal and unpleasant regime in the middle east. I mean you got public beheadings, execution of women for witchcraft & adultery, routine use of torture, this place has it all!

    And once again, guess who keeps this evil and murderous regime in place? You guessed it - it's the US of A.

    In God we trust - now pass the pliers.

  • by dachshund ( 300733 ) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @10:52AM (#35042454)

    Egypt is less brutal than other countries in that region, they have a relatively moderate stance regarding international relations, they try not to let Muslim radicals do too much harm.

    This is one way of looking at things. The other is that the local population's views aren't (or at one point, weren't) deemed compatible with the U.S.'s strategic and economic interests in the reason. As a result, it became convenient to ally with a totalitarian regime that overrode those interests.

    In this view, which I believe is pretty well supported by history, Muslim extremists are more of a symptom than a cause of U.S. policy (i.e., if a regime crushes all of its non-violent, secular opponents, sooner or later you'll be left with fanatics who are willing to die for their cause). For a great view on this, look up the history of the U.S. in Iran, and in particular how our Operation Ajax [] eventually replaced a secular prime minister with a radical Islamic government.

    The one thing I'll offer in "our" defense is that these things are highly path dependent. In other words, our mistakes beget a dictator, which leads to radicalism, which leads to our offering more support to the dictator in order to hold down the radicals --- basically the situation you described in your post. It can be very difficult to untangle yourself from bad decisions made by your predecessors.

    Doesn't mean we shouldn't try --- even as a practical matter (rather than a moral one) these dictatorships in the middle east aren't going to last forever, and the longer we support them the worse it'll be for us when the shit hits.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Saturday January 29, 2011 @12:12PM (#35042790)
    I'm pretty sure that sinking that ship was the French military's finest hour. Greenpeace are ecoterrorists, fanatics that are as bad as the people they oppose, and occasionally worse than them.
  • by Nick Ives ( 317 ) on Saturday January 29, 2011 @03:01PM (#35043884)

    It takes a strong, forceful leader to rule primitive societies.

    With this, you clearly show your prejudice.

The Force is what holds everything together. It has its dark side, and it has its light side. It's sort of like cosmic duct tape.