Internet Access & SMS Blocked in Egypt as Protests Escalate

by Avinash Saxena
Reports are coming in that Egypt is now under an Internet and SMS blackout, just hours before a new series of major protests are planned against the regime of President Hosni Mubarak.
Sebone, a major Egyptian service provider based in Italy, is reporting that no Internet traffic is entering or exiting the country as of 12:30 AM Egyptian time. Reporters and citizens on-the-ground are also reporting that they are experiencing Internet and SMS outages.
Egypt has been enveloped in unrest over the presidency of Hosni Mubarak, who has been in power since 1981. The protests have been partly inspired by the successful revolution in Tunisia that forced President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali out of power after 23 years. Facebook, Twitter and social media were key communication tools used by protesters to organize rallies.
Just like Tunisia, Egyptian protesters have been utilizing social media to organize their own protests, using hashtags such as #Jan25 to communicate. In response to the protests, Egyptian authorities blocked Twitter and Facebook. Egyptian police have been cracking down on protesters using water cannons and tear gas.
“I suspect the internet cutoff is just a fraction of what the government has in store for Friday,” CNN’s Ben Wederman, who is on the ground in Egypt, said on Twitter earlier today.
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