Free and open Internet is exactly what the young generation of countries like Egypt and Tunisia want. Cutting off the service will only fuel the flames of resentment amongst young men and women.
As yet another day of mass protest was set to go down, severing the Internet is hoped to destroy all communications between the protest leaders. The Internet has been one of the main tools used in orgainsing the logistics of these mass demonstrations. The authorities withdrew all routes to Egyptian networks and shut down the official DNS (Domain Name Servers).
The fact is that now millions of Egyptians are completely without Internet access, this of course has huge implications for web businesses. Millions of Egyptians will use the Internet for purposes unrelated to the protests. Punishing everybody like this just proves the harshness of the regime.
This is the first time in Internet history that the leadership of a country has shut down the whole service.
Earlier in the week Egyptians were complaining of not being able to access social network sites. The Egyptian authorities denied that they had anything to do with this, stating they supported free speech. This is exactly the point, the Internet does represent free-speech, it represents modernity and the free-flow of information. Old established regimes like many of those in the Middle East do not want the youngsters expressing their ideas and opinions. Humans will inevitably seek liberty and knowledge; they will not continue to live in religiously strict and conservative societies. The Internet is so important for breaking away from these chains.
It is feared that the whole region will go up in flames if the riots continue. This has led to other countries such as Syria restricting Internet access. It’s not just the Internet it’s the mobile phone networks too.
Let’s hope the programmers and hackers from these countries can move fast to get around these restrictions. It’s likely that we will see an increase in the numbers of “hackers”, and may also be considered one of the worst crimes as the authorities do their best to stop their ingenuity.
There are already some get a rounds. Smartphone apps can be used to access Twitter and Facebook as they have not been blocked yet; proxy servers can be used to divert web traffic to its destination via unblocked sites. Some reports suggest that using a dial up connection will allow you access to the Web.
The idiom that comes to mind is, necessity is the mother of all invention, it may be the case that the Middle East becomes a hot bed of hacking activity as they try to regain their freedoms. Once you have a taste for that kind of freedom of information you never forget it. There will now not just be a battle on the streets but also in cyber space as authorities and young computer programmers try to one up each other.