Loading...
Technology

Egyptian Unrest: Could a Total Shutdown of Internet Traffic Ever Happen in the U.S. Too?

Comments (0)

By

Fri, Jan 28, 2011 at 4:07 PM
click to enlarge Web traffic flatlined in Egypt. - THE DAILY WHAT
  • The Daily What
  • Web traffic flatlined in Egypt.

One of the more chilling aspects of the unrest in Egypt this week has been watching internet access in that country go almost completely dark. The shutdown of a web we rely on so much for the democratization of information is almost shocking.

The biggest question is, could it ever happen here? Los Angeles-based engineers gave birth to the precursor to the internet in 1969 at UCLA and, following its blast into our phones in the last five years, it would be hard to envision life without it -- especially in a time of crisis.

The website ars technica takes a look at how a country like Egypt might choke its citizens' internet access and ponders if it could possibly ever happen in the United States.

It's not exactly clear how Egyptian authorities, the targets of thousands of protesters decrying the authoritarian rule and alleged corruption that shape the country's leadership, shut down Twitter, Facebook and thousands of other communication channels.

But ars technica argues it wouldn't be that hard because Egypt has a relatively small number of internet service providers (four of them -- we have more than that in L.A.), fiber optic cables, "border routers," and Egypt-exclusive area-code like web "prefixes" (3,500).

Shutting any or all of the above down could have done the trick. Ars technica:

" ... The fact that everything went down after midnight local time suggests that it took considerable effort to accomplish the 'Net shut-off. After all, it seems unlikely that President Hosni Mubarak ordered the Internet to be shut down as he went to bed; such a decision must have been made earlier in the day, and then taken hours to execute."

Could it happen here? Unlikely: Unless the government has a system of switches in place we don't know about it, the web and its fortitude would live up to its reputation in such an event stateside, the site reports:

"Like in Egypt, in Europe almost all interconnection happens in the capitals of the countries involved. Not so in the US: because the country is so large, and traffic volumes are so high, large networks may interconnect in as many as 20 cities. Numerous intercontinental sea cables land in the Boston, New York, Washington DC, Miami, Los Angeles, and Seattle regions. So in Egypt or many medium-sized countries, killing the connections between ISPs wouldn't be too hard. In the US, this would be quite difficult."

Related Content

Related

Now Trending

Los Angeles Concert Tickets

Slideshows

  • 21st Annual Classic Cars "Cruise Night" in Glendale
    On Saturday, spectators of all ages were out in multitudes on a beautiful summer night in Glendale to celebrate the 21st annual Cruise Night. Brand Boulevard, one of the main streets through downtown Glendale, was closed to traffic and lined with over 250 classic, pre-1979 cars. There was plenty of food to be had and many of the businesses on Brand stayed open late for the festivities The evening ended with fireworks and a 50th anniversary concert from The Kingsmen, who performed their ultimate party hit, "Louie, Louie." All photos by Jared Cowan.
  • The World Cup Celebrated And Mourned By Angelenos
    The World Cup has taken Los Angeles by storm. With viewings beginning at 9 a.m., soccer fans have congregated at some of the best bars in the city including The Village Idiot, Goal, The Parlour on Melrose, Big Wang's and more. Whether they're cheering for their native country, favorite players or mourning the USA's loss, Angelenos have paid close attention to the Cup, showing that soccer is becoming more than a fad. All photos by Daniel Kohn.
  • La Brea Tar Pits "Pit 91" Re-Opening
    Starting June 28th, The Page Museum once again proudly unveils the museum's Observation Pit, which originally opened in 1952 but has spent most of the last half century closed. Now visitors can get an up-close look at Pit 91, which is currently under excavation. The La Brea Tar Pits, home of the Page Museum, is one of the world's most famous ice age fossil locations, known for range of fossils from saber-toothed cats and mammoths to microscopic plants, seeds and insects. The new "Excavator Tour" is free with museum admission if purchased online at tarpits.org . All photos by Nanette Gonzales.