Wednesday, February 16, 2011, PM | 2 Comments
Egyptian government commanded powerful instruments of control over the Internet during the country’s “uprising” of the common man and woman. It owns the pipelines that carry information across the country and out into the world. New York Times reported that interviews with many of Egyptian engineers, as well as a thorough examination of data collected around the world during the blackout, indicate that the government exploited a devastating combination of vulnerabilities in the national infrastructure.
That’s almost the norm in the Middle Eastern countries. For example, the Syrian Telecommunications Establishment dominates the infrastructure in Syria, and the bulk of the international traffic flows through a single pipeline to Cyprus.
Jordan, Qatar, Oman, Saudi Arabia and other Middle Eastern countries have the same sort of dominant, state-controlled carrier. They are all authoritarian and totalitarian governments. That’s one of the best ways in this technological age to control their people. These governments think that it’s their God-given right to discriminate against the flow of free information whereas it should be the other way around.
There is no genuine representation of the people. Over the past several days, activists in Bahrain and Iran say they have seen strong evidence of severe Internet slowdowns amid protests there.
Even in the United States, folks need the so-called Net Neutrality. Let the common man and woman decide what is best for them. The government and the big and powerful organizations should not make decisions for us what we have to see and hear. The principle of Net Neutrality advocates no restrictions by Internet service providers and governments on content, sites, platforms, the kinds of equipment that may be attached, and the modes of communication.
The strength of the Internet is that it has no single point of failure. The routers control the flow of information. There may be hundreds of thousands of routers around the globe and it has become harder and harder to control the flow of information.
If and when the new government genuinely represented by its own people takes hold of the country, the job for Egyptians engineers must be to find how the government controlled the Internet inside the country. They must make sure that, in a people’s government, that kind of “switching off the Internet” never happens again.
In a Nutshell
Only authoritarian and totalitarian governments can do what they did in Egypt and what is being done in other Middle Eastern countries. The time has come for the respective people of a nation to take matters in their own hands. Have genuine representatives in parliament or whatever their system of government happens to be.