So, how does a country go about turning the lights out on the World Wide Web? Well, owning the companies that provide access certainly helps. Soon after midnight on Friday morning in Egypt, the state-owned ISPs serving the country went dark, effectively halting all inbound and outbound traffic.
"According to our analysis, 88% of the 'Egyptian internet' has fallen off the Internet," Andree Toonk, an analyst at BGPmon, a monitoring site that checks connectivity of countries and networks, told The Guardian. "What's different in this case as compared to other 'similar' cases is that all of the major ISPs seem to be almost completely offline. Whereas in other cases, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were typically blocked, in this case the government seems to be taking a shotgun approach by ordering ISPs to stop routing all networks."
It's common in countries where Internet access is largely a state-owned commodity for governments to block social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as block blogs. Not only does the real time nature of the Internet provide a great tool for planning and the like, but it also gives the outside world a view into what's going on — something that Egypt has effectively stopped with this move. One ISP, the smaller Noor Group, is still online and sending information in and out, but it's unclear why at this point, or if it'll follow suit.
If you don't let the world watch, it's like all the awful things that are about to happen — and have happened — just don't count, right?