The world is watching in shock at the moment as reports continue to flood in of Egyptian protests mounting and the government pre-emptively striking back before tomorrow’s planned demonstrations by cutting off the nation’s Internet connection, along with access to social media services like Facebook, Twitter and Blackberry.
Along with The Arabist and CNN’s Ben Wedeman, Reuters is now reporting that users in Cairo are experiencing phone and Internet shutdown. “Egypt has shut off the internet,” read one headline.
Reuters is also reporting that the Egyptian Prime Minister’s office denied that Facebook and Twitter have been shut down despite countless claims to the contrary.
The flood of communication blackout reports on Twitter and elsewhere came shortly after a gruesome video of an Egyptian protestor being shot was posted by the AP. One source with relatives in Cairo says he is communicating with them via landline and they are confirming reports that riot police are setting cars on fire. “You can not text message in Egypt at the moment,” he said.
No one either inside or outside of the country quite understands exactly why and how the blackout is happening or how it will end but it is believed that these efforts are an attempt by a 30 year-old regime to quash protest organization by a social media and tech savvy youth .
As TC’s Mike Butcher points out, the major service providers in Egypt are TEDATA, Egynet DSL and Vodafone. Vodafone has been quiet about the issue since it denied blocking Twitter on January 25th.
Naturally, you can follow the movement on Twitter on #Jan25 and #Egypt. Angel investor Shervin Pishevar has also conceived of an open mesh router network that could function as a backup in situations where governments try to shut off communications. Pishevar is looking for volunteers and those interested can tweet at @Shervin.
Image: Ahmed Shokeir