How do you silence the voice of protestors when they just won't pipe down? If you're a heavy-handed Middle Eastern government, you cut the cord on the Internet. Egypt pulled the plug on the Web during its recent revolution; today, Syria found itself plunged into an information black hole as the government shut down the Internet prior to taking an aggressive response to anti-government protestors.
"The Syrian government has cut off Internet service (3G, DSL, Dial-up) all across Syria, including in government institutions,"
USA Today reports
, passing along the information from al-Jazeera, a major Arabic news network. The timing apparently coincided with reports of anti-government protestors taking to the streets in droves.
Internet analysis company Renesys
said that as of 3:35 P.M GMT, "the routes to 40 of 59 (of Syria's) networks were withdrawn from the global routing table." Contradictory to the USA today report, Renesys reports that the Syrian government's networks are still responding, although occasionally slow. "The networks that are not reachable include, substantially, all of the prefixes reserved for SyriaTel's 3G mobile data networks, and smaller downstream ISPs including Sawa, INET, and Runnet," the company's blog claims.
So why the secrecy? USA Today, citing
al-Jazeera's still-live Syria blog
, is reporting that Syrian forces have opened fire with machine guns on a crowd of 50,000 protestors in the major city of Hama, with a similar attack occurring in the city of Deir Azzour. Over 27 deaths and 200 injuries have already been reported in Hama alone. Syria didn't pay attention to the lessons of the Egyptian revolution; the Internet is everywhere, and word always gets out.