Egypt's Internet Shutdown; How Is This Possible?

So I know many of you have already heard about the Egyptian Government shutting off the internet to all of its citizens last week.  I don't think many of us have ever contemplated this being possible, but apparently its easier than you think.  I can't imagine how this country would react if a similar situation occurred here!.......... yea, so like I said I can't imagine.  The internet is everything to Americans, more important than cell phones, television, heck it's probably more important than food depending on who you talk to.

In Egypt shutting off the internet doesn't take much.  The internet, like in most countries comprises a series of cables contained in dimly lit chilled rooms.  A country the size of Egypt probably has dozens of these rooms, explains Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for Arbor Networks, an Internet security company, in an interview done by fastcompany.com.  Killing the internet is as simple as literally unplugging these devices. Making these changes in Egypt is simple because there are only 10 Internet providers and a centralized government that can quickly order them to yank out the cables.  If the providers refuse, they can loose their licenses from the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.  On Friday, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton called Egypt to restore communications, and White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated the U.S. position that access to the Internet is a "basic human right."

Back home in the U.S. congress has contemplated implementing an Internet "kill switch" for use in emergencies, but it would be more complicated to effect that here, where there are more fiber-optic cables and thousands of providers.  Egypt has one of the more sophisticated Internet set-ups in the region, therefore shutting down the Internet is easy in most places around the world.  And while it may be difficult to turn off the Internet in the U.S. and Europe, there's still plenty of collateral damage when a country that plays a significant role in commerce and trade, like Egypt, chooses to do so.

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