Egypt Internet Shutdown 'Unprecedented'

Coordinated effort affected everything from mobile phones to laptops

By Mark Russell,  Newser Staff

Posted Jan 28, 2011 5:59 AM CST | Updated Jan 28, 2011 7:49 AM CST

(Newser) – The complete shutdown of nearly all online services just after midnight in Egypt is unprecedented in its scale, reports the AP. While governments around the world have disrupted online service during unrest (such as Iran did during protests in 2009), what sets Egypt's move apart is how apparently coordinated the effort was—the country's four primary Internet providers all went dark at 12:34am—and that all manner of devices were affected, from mobile phones to laptops.

"Iran never took down any significant portion of their Internet connection. They knew their economy and the markets are dependent on Internet activity," said an Internet security expert, adding that what was happening in Egypt was "almost entirely unprecedented in Internet history." Could the Internet similarly be turned off in the United States? "It can't happen here," said the security expert. "How many people would you have to call to shut down the US Internet? Hundreds, thousands maybe?" Not that politicians aren't trying—a controversial bill that would give the president an Internet "kill switch" in the event of a "national cyber-emergency" resurfaced earlier this week.

Internet traffic from Egypt was completely shut off just after midnight this morning.
Internet traffic from Egypt was completely shut off just after midnight this morning.   (Arbor Networks)
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