Syria pulls plug on Internet access
The move may indicate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's increasing nervousness about how his administration is perceived by the rest of the world.
Thu, Nov 29 2012 at 2:49 PM
Syrian President Bashar Assad and his wife Asma in December 2003 (Photo: Agencia Brasil/Creative Commons Brazil)
The entire nation of Syria has gone offline.
"Starting at 10:26 UTC [5:26 a.m. Eastern time], Syria's international Internet connectivity shut down," wrote Renesys researchers, who monitor the global health of the Internet, on the firm's blog today (Nov. 29). "All 84 of Syria's IP address blocks have become unreachable, effectively removing the country from the Internet."
That finding was later confirmed by Google and Akamai; it means that any incoming or outgoing Internet traffic in Syria is undeliverable.
The move may indicate Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's increasing nervousness about how his administration is perceived by the rest of the world, technology site AllThingsD speculated, or that an especially egregious human-rights violation is on its way and Assad wants to hide it.
The Internet blackout, instantly given the hashtag #SyriaBlackout on Twitter, came as battles between Assad loyalists and rebels forces continued with no sign of abating. The country has seen constant turmoil since a popular uprising broke out in March 2011.
Syria has partially blocked Internet access in the past, but this nationwide shutdown is a first, the Associated Press reported.
Syrian activists told the AP that the government was responsible for cutting Internet and phone service in the Syrian capital of Damascus, where Reuters reported fighting in several areas, including on a road that leads to the airport.
Egypt's Hosni Mubarak and Libya's Muammar Gaddafi cut Internet access to their respective peoples in early 2011 to stifle the flow of information and make tools used to organize populist movements unavailable.
Mubarak now sits in an Egyptian prison, reportedly in failing health. In October 2011, Gaddafi was dragged from a ditch in his hometown and shot. His corpse was dragged through the streets.
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