Egypt has taken itself off the internet (updated 29-Jan)

By Grant Jacobs 28/01/2011

Updates are at the bottom of the article and in comments after the article.

Reports on-line are that Egypt has taken itself off the internet, presumably as a request of the government.

Tweets from those in touch with people in Egypt report that both the internet and SMS network have been shut down. If so, there is no texting, email, blogs, twitter, etc., in Egypt. Likewise, no-one from outside Egypt should be able to read internet-based information coming from within the country.

Source Renesys via James Cowie.
Source Renesys via James Cowie.

In an article by James Cowie an accompanying graph (copied to left) shows a ’virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the Internet’s global routing table’ leaving ’no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange Internet traffic with Egypt’s service providers.’

Yesterday saw reports of shutting down social media services (e.g. twitter, Facebook), presumably in an attempt to make organising rallies and protests more difficult. This latest action would seem to be an extension of this approach.

It’s hard to imagine how the government think that by shutting down infrastructure they are quelling protests. You’d think this would simply play in the hands of those protesting, giving them further justification and drawing international attention to it.

It’s also hard to get a feel for the impact this will have on the country. As James Cowie wrote:

’What happens when you disconnect a modern economy and 80,000,000 people from the Internet? What will happen tomorrow, on the streets and in the credit markets? This has never happened before, and the unknowns are piling up.’

Indeed. From an outsiders point of view, it’s history on-the-fly.

Egypt is a country I would like to visit one day, in better circumstances. I hope this ends well.

This article may be updated as new items come in. (I’m fairly busy; other sources will be more on the ball.) Readers may want to know I have a habit of adding news in the comments, so those following an event on my blogs might find it useful to either check back in, or subscribe to the thread.


Other sources of overall information

(This will be updated as new sources of on-going information come in.)

One source of background information can be found here.

Those using twitter can try following the #Jan25 hastag. It’s very active, so you may struggle to keep up with in manually.

YouTube has a number of videos of the protests.

The Guardian has a continuously updated news stream.

Aljazeera has a live stream in English.

Individual news

(Others new items might appear in the comments, esp. if they seem smaller at the time. Times are local, NZST. Excuse any poor formatting: WordPress’s editor doesn’t always play nice with cut’n’paste.)

9:08pm Fourteen minutes ago this tweet:


Egypt gov shutting down mobiles RT @beleidy: My #mobinilphone now has no network (mobilnil is the biggest mobile network in Egypt) #Jan25

Morning, Saturday 29th:

Watching Egypt disappear from the internet.

From the Telegraph: How Egypt shut down the internet

0 Responses to “Egypt has taken itself off the internet (updated 29-Jan)”

  • One commenter at Cowie’s blog suggests a complete internet shutdown isn’t unprecedented (one of the points about this action is while other nations like Iran, China, etc. have limited their services, at key times they [usually!] don’t shut them off entirely):

    Michael | January 27, 2011 10:46 PM | Reply
    Unfortunately this is not unprecedented. During Army imposed “State of Emergency” in Bangladesh (pop. 160 million+) in 2007 internet and mobile connections turned-off for over 24 hours.
    Only one fibre-optic cable connected Bangladesh to net and it was simply disabled.
    Terrifying experience trying to get information on police and army actions to outside world then.

  • The internet is down, but ham radio is still up in Egypt. Anyone in Egypt, turn your PC into a ham radio: If you have Facebook access, keep up with the latest developments at the Facebook site Operation Egypt.

  • Hi Nissl,

    Nice to see a new face here. I doubt local Egyptians can read my blog! None of the recent visitors to it are from Egypt (although there are some from UAE, etc.)

    Abdulla_AlAthba has kindly responded to me asking for a translation of a tweet originally in Arabic (I originally used google translate and wasn’t confident if it was sound as the grammar of google’s translation was a bit off):

    Abdulla_AlAthba عبدالله العذبة
    @BioinfoTools Sir, Al Arab Qatari newspaper officer in Cairo says Internet still works 4 companies only, including our office there #Jan25

    There are reports elsewhere that (at least) one ISP is operating (Noor, from memory); this report might tie in with this.

  • I’ve added a few sources to the article in an update. I’m trying to gather all of what I’d put in comments for the moment into the one comment (i.e. here) to avoid swamping people and polluting the top page comment’s list.

    Via twitter:

    Alshaheeed Khaled Said
    [forwarded by deborahblum]
    Police agents are pouring petrol in all main squares to light them up during protests. Please retweet & Share #Egypt #Jan25

    SultanAlQassemi Sultan Al Qassemi
    by deborahblum
    Al Jazeera correspondent in Alexandria is confirming that there is “No police presence in Alexandria Governate, they all left” #Jan25

    edyong209 Ed Yong
    RT @grimkat: RT @wired: Cairo residents remove passwords from wi-fi routers so protesters can communicate #jan25

    Video of protesters driving back police on one of the bridges in Cairo (H/T @deborahblum)

    alexismadrigal alexismadrigal
    by JenLucPiquant
    How Egyptians are getting around the communications ban: A lone ISP, dial up, VPNs.

    These below in reverse order of time, i.e. most recent at top, from the #Jan25 twitter stream:

    Palaestina Voice from Palestine
    by elcuncun
    Al-Jazeera: alone in Suez 11 dead, 20 in critical situation #Egypt #Jan25

    Joe_Taxi Joe_Taxi
    by veniviedivici
    RT @habibh: Telecomix now offering dial-up internet to egyptians +46850009990. user/pass: telecomix/telecomix #Egypt #Jan25 @telecomix

    LaraABCNews Lara Setrakian
    One of the protest demands: the end of decades-old emergency law, which justifies wanton arrests and crackdowns. #Jan25

    deaninwaukesha deaninwaukesha
    RT @blogdiva: i had no idea @HosniMubarak was on twitter. great find by @SubMedina 🙂 #jan25

    SultanAlQassemi Sultan Al Qassemi
    by averyps
    Great news: Al Jazeera “Thousands of Egyptians form human-chain around Egypt Museum to protect it from looting” #Jan25
    [ As a scientist and museum “fan”, great to read this. ]

    abeerallamFT Abeer Allam
    by muziyan
    mobile phones are working in places outside greater Cairo, suez #jan25 #egypt

    Shefaa Shefaa Abu Jabal
    All flights in and out of #Cairo suspended. #Egypt #Jan25

    butheina Butheina HK
    by sidvee
    Ripple effect of #Egypt #Jan25 felt in Mauritania. Massive protest out on the streets of capital right now via @weddady

    paulzink Paul Zink
    RT @TimOBrien: Egyptian military officials leave Pentagon talks, head home, U.S. official says #cairo #egypt #jan25

    I could go on, but really readers are perhaps best to simply follow the #Jan25 twitter stream. While “noisy”, it’s a god source of news. Having said that, 300 tweets were added in the time I presented those above…

  • Word is that rather than resign, President Hosni Mubarak has dismissed his government, e.g.

    AJELive AJELive
    by AlainPicon93
    BREAKING NEWS – Mubarak: I have ordered the government to step down and I will name a new government tomorrow #jan25 #Egypt #cairo #egipto

  • Damn:

    AP The Associated Press
    by deborahblum
    Looters break into Cairo’s famed Egyptian Museum, rip heads off two mummies #Egypt #Jan25 -SB

    More in the article linked within the tweet. Why are there always some dumb mutts? You’re opposing the government, not your ancient history.

  • From what I can tell (i.e. not much!) until now they’ve largely let journalists go about their business, now this:

    edyong209 Ed Yong
    F–K! RT @JenLucPiquant: Sad day. RT @BadAstronomer Al Jazeera has been closed down by the Egyptian government!

    NaomiAKlein Naomi Klein
    by deborahblum
    When #Egypt cuts off Al Jazeera it’s censorship. When US cable providers refuse to show it in the first place it’s “just business”

  • For those looking for a follow-on from the museum story, here’s one starting point (H/T @deborahblum):

    dvergano USA TODAY science
    by deborahblum
    Egyptologists for Egypt group tracking damages on Facebook page: #archeology