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Summary:

Syria, which is engaged in a citizen revolt, has been cut off from the Internet according to several reports. This tactic isn’t all that difficult implement and is becoming more common, making the need for new open source technologies for wireless communications necessary.

Updated: Syria is cut off from the Internet, according to The Renesys blog and other media sites citing Syrian rebels, bringing about an isolation that many feared was coming to the country. The country is engaged in a citizen-led insurgency against the existing government, which was sparked after Syrian President Bashar Assad brutally cracked down on protesters.

The Renesys blog entry is short, and promises updates. From the Renesys blog:

Starting at 10:26 UTC (12:26pm in Damascus), Syria’s international Internet connectivity shut down. In the global routing table, all 84 of Syria’s IP address blocks have become unreachable, effectively removing the country from the Internet.

Cutting off entire countries form the global Internet has become a strategy employed by some governments in times of civil unrest — and underscores many of the weak points of the Internet itself. Both Libya, Iran and Egypt pulled much of their connections to the web world offline in the last two years. We explained how Egypt took the country offline in this post:

The OpenNet Initiative has outlined two methods by which most nations could enact such shutdowns. Essentially, officials can either close down the routers which direct traffic over the border — hermetically sealing the country from outsiders — or go further down the chain and switch off routers at individual ISPs to prevent access for most users inside.

At the time Egypt took the second route to take the country offline, a process made easier by the fact that their were few ISPs to contact. It’s unclear how Syria disconnected its citizens. Some news reports say insurgents are communicating still via satellite phones, but the lost of IP addresses means no IP services can find their way to end users within the country. When a packet destined for a Syrian IP address is sent, it simply can’t find out where it’s supposed to go.

Update: Here’s what that drop off in traffic looks like, courtesy of Akamai.

This is one reason that technologies such as OpenBTS, Commotion, the Serval Project and other technologies to build out open source communications networks are important. While those may not ensure that people in Syria can talk to the outside world unless they have a satellite backhaul, they could still communicate with one another independently of the local ISPs.

Photo courtesy of <a href=”2lights.net / Shutterstock.com“>Shutterstock user 2lights.net.

  1. Dat grammar…

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  2. Well, you know…. some countries shut down the internet to avoid people to think what their country is really doing, and… some countries have Fox News.

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    1. well put!

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  3. Wouldn’t it add to civil unrest by taking away a freedom or what is considered a freedom to most people away. Most countries don’t like the freedom of speech nowadays so to control the population they shut it down. Wow I didn’t realize that the internet could be a blessing and a curse.

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  4. What’s going on over there is scary. May the innocent be protected and down with the ASSad regime!

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  5. This seems like a dumb, desperate move, but the average Syrian has bigger worries than lack of internet access. Most Syrians probably didn’t have regular internet access even before this country-wide cut-off anyway. Being cut off from food and water supplies is a far more pressing issue.

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  6. “Internet can live in war zone and also can’t live in war zone”

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  7. takingonthegiant.com Thursday, November 29, 2012

    Hi , We have a newly launched blog, takingonthegiant.com about young people, past and present who change the world. I want to follow your fine blog and hope you might be interested in following ours. We have landed into the middle of a big story and we thought you might like to become involved. Last year, Anjali Appadurai, a student at The College of the Atlantic, managed to address all the senior delegates at the United Nations Conference on Climate Change which was held in South Africa. Her brief, awesome speech got world-wide attention. But since the simple clear voice of a youth severely challenged the delegates in a way some of the more powerful members did not want to hear, at this year’s Conference in Doha, Qatar, Anjali has been kicked out. This the student who has been dubbed the youth voice of civil society. Imagine, being over in the Middle East, thousands of miles from home and being intimidated by Security officials. But she has kept her cool and the youth there supporting her have written a polite letter demanding her reinstatement. However, if Anjali is not reinstated, there most certainly will be an effort to mobilize young people around the world to support her. If you could take three minutes and link to her speech from last year and decide if you don’t agree that she is a powerful voice representing the youth of the world: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ko3e6G_7GY4. If you do agree with us, (and tens of thousands of others) consider doing a story either by linking to our website (or just steal from it, we don’t care) to inform and involve your considerable followers. Young people dream of a better world but worry that it might not be… this is a way they can act on their dreams. If you have any question, we would be happy to provide any assistance possible.
    Charlie Butts

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    1. Charlie
      Would you put together a post that is about what your blog is, about Anjali and others,, as well. With this place links to the blog, so that people, like me, can reblog that page, and also send it
      to newleters and other networks. The link should be an url so that more than WordPress can
      read it. I heard the young lady, Anjai’s speach already, but I did not know she had been denied assess in Doha. I suspect the conferences have changed in nature. It is good that she has not been cut off from communicating, as have the Syrians. Thanks, Granny

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  8. Just hope they’re all alright.

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    1. Same goes for me.

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  9. Shutting off the internet is akin to closing the door after the cows have escaped. Its too late…the minds and hearts of the people will speak in whichever way they can. Always have, always will. These governments are making futile attempts at stopping the wave of change….but it has gone BEYOND them.

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  10. Hope it doesn’t have a domino effect in the whole region…

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