The Egyptian government appears to have cut off most internet access as protests continue in the country. Photograph: Sarah Carr/Barcroft Media Egypt appears to have cut off almost all access to the internet from inside and outside the country from late on Thursday night, in a move that has concerned observers of the protests that have been building in strength through the week.
“According to our analysis, 88% of the ‘Egyptian internet’ has fallen off the internet,” said Andree Toonk at BGPmon, a monitoring site that checks connectivity of countries and networks.
“What’s different in this case as compared to other ‘similar’ cases is that all of the major ISP’s seem to be almost completely offline. Whereas in other cases, social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter were typically blocked, in this case the government seems to be taking a shotgun approach by ordering ISPs to stop routing all networks.”
The cutoff appears to have happened around 10.30pm GMT on Thursday night.
Only one internet service provider appears to still have a working connection to the outside world: the Noor Group, for which all 83 routes are working, and inbound traffic from its connection provider, Telecom Italia, also working.
Protests in Egypt at the government’s rule have been building all week, and Friday was expected to see the largest demonstrations so far.
An analysis by Renesys, which provides real-time monitoring of internet access, says that “every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, internet cafe, website, school, embassy and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.”
That has caused concern among observers who believe that internet access – which the Egyptian government limited earlier this week by cutting off social networks – is essential to ensure that government acts responsibly towards its citizens. Tim Bray, an engineer at Google, tweeted: “I feel that as soon as the world can’t use the net to watch, awful things will start happening.”
Renesys found that: “At 22:34 UTC (00:34am local time), Renesys observed the virtually simultaneous withdrawal of all routes to Egyptian networks in the internet’s global routing table. Approximately 3,500 individual BGP [Border Gateway Protocol] routes were withdrawn, leaving no valid paths by which the rest of the world could continue to exchange internet traffic with Egypt’s service providers. Virtually all of Egypt’s internet addresses are now unreachable, worldwide.”
The company notes that Noor Group is the only working connection: “Why was Noor Group apparently unaffected by the countrywide takedown order? Unknown at this point, but we observe that the Egyptian Stock Exchange is still alive at a Noor address.”