It was reported on Friday that, such were the tensions in Egypt, the Government switched off the country’s Internet access to stop people organising rallies via Facebook, Twitter, email etc.
Just stop and think about that for a second.
The Internet was switched off in an entire country. Egypt dropped off the web, with no connections going into or out of this troubled nation.
Isn’t that more than a little bit scary? The Internet was created at the height of Cold War paranoia, a network that was supposed to be immune from ‘damage’. If one connection went down – due to a nuclear strike – then communication would be automatically re-routed round the area: so A to C might connect via Z and L if B disappeared. And a government can, if they so desire, just switch it off. Remove their country from this world wide network.
Call me an optimist. Call me naive. But I always liked to consider the Internet above geographic and political considerations. It belonged to all of us, with no single owner.
But when a government can decide, in one fell sweep, to deny its citizens access to this open communications network it makes you realise that, as much as we might like to think it’s “for the people, by the people”, our access to the Internet is still at the mercy of large corporations, the government and, well, any dictator who doesn’t like what’s being said.
Just food for thought, without party political bias on a cold Monday afternoon.
Photo: “Women of Egypt” by Todd Siegel, licensed through Creative Commons. View the original here.