Egypt: Off the Map

Egypt has gone dark. According to Renesys, a Manchester, N.H.-based company that monitors Internet routing data, the Egyptian government appears to have taken the unprecedented step of ordering service providers to shut down all international connections to the Internet.

"Every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world," Renesys said in a blog post. "The Egyptian government's actions . . . have essentially wiped their country from the global map."

At 12:34 a.m. Friday in Egypt, Renesys said they observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet's global routing table. The company said this is different from what happened previously in Tunisia, where specific routes were blocked, or in Iran, where the Internet connections were rendered painfully slow.

The blackout also appeared to extend to mobile phones. British Telecom provider Vodafone confirmed on their website that all mobile operators in Egypt were instructend to suspend services in selected areas of the country. "Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it," the company said.

And the fact that those in Egypt might not see reaction from the US government, which condemned the moves, was not lost on State Department Spokesman P.J. Crowely: "We are concerned that communication services, including the Internet, social media and even this #tweet, are being blocked in #Egypt," he wrote on the micro-blogging site late Thursday.

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