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Syria's disappearing act fooling nobody

  • Posted by Tony Poulos
  • May 9, 2013 12:51 PM BST
Syria disappeared from the internet world yesterday but nobody was fooled by the motives. There is a deadly lesson to be learnt for those contemplating similar actions.

CommsMEA has reported that Syria disappeared off the internet for almost 14 hours yesterday amid an escalating civil war.

The whole country was disconnected from the global internet for 13 hours and 54 minutes according to Google Transparency Reports.

Although no confirmed cause has been reported for the outage, The New York Times claimed security researchers named the Syrian government as the most likely culprit. The experts explained that Syria is connected to the Internet through three undersea cables and one overland cable that runs through Turkey. They pointed out that for "outsiders" to cause the loss in service, "they would have had to physically cut all four cables simultaneously".

It’s certainly not the first time authorities in Syria, and other countries facing internal strife, have disconnected themselves from the internet. Presumably, this is done to stop crowdsourcing or ‘mobsourcing’ to be effected via social network channels and to stop news of government actions getting to the outside world.

Whilst regimes might think cutting off the internet is a legitimate means of controlling uprisings, experience from Egypt and Libya during their own Arab Springs, proves the opposite. There, people were incensed at not being able to communicate electronically and came out into the streets in their masses to show their disapproval personally.

The mere fact that governments or regimes of any type can entertain using the internet as a political weapon is abhorrent. However, history clearly shows that any power trying to do so is likely to lose any hold on power.