Could A U.S. Government Crackdown Take America Off The Internet?

I’m sure this has been on the minds of many following the ongoing events in Egypt. An io9 article discusses the possibility:

With the threat of today’s protests looming in Egypt, on Thursday Egyptian authorities cut the nation off the internet. No online communication could pass in or out of the country. We investigated whether a similar lockdown could happen in America.

How the Egyptian government erased its citizens from the internet

No one is completely certain what happened to the Egyptian internet, but it appears that the shutdown started off early in the week with the country blocking Twitter and Facebook access for those within its borders. Then, shortly after Thursday midnight local time, the country simply disappeared from the internet. With a few exceptions like the stock exchange, Egyptian websites and services were unreachable; the network traffic over Egyptian borders dropped by an astonishing 90 percent. Cell phone networks were also down. Today Vodafone confirmed that all mobile providers been “obliged” by the Egyptian government to shut off service to customers in that country.

How did it happen? Most likely, according to experts, the Egyptian authorities made a few phone calls to the country’s handful of large internet service providers. Their request would have been simple: Make it impossible for Egyptians to communicate with other countries and each other using the internet. But carrying out this order isn’t like hitting an off switch.

To erase Egypt, those providers would have to corrupt routers, nodes in the internet which direct data traffic. Each router helps traffic along by advertising the many IP addresses it knows using a system called border gateway protocol (BGP). When you visit a website in Egypt, your internet provider uses BGP to ask an Egyptian router, “Hey, how do I get to this Egyptian blog?” The router responds by using BGP to send you on your merry way to the right address. BGP is basically the border language that helps different parts of the internet speak to each other.

But early Friday morning, thousands of routers in Egypt had their minds wiped. Suddenly they had no idea where anything was on the Egyptian internet. When your internet provider looked for web addresses inside Egypt, it found nothing. Egyptian routers no longer gave meaningful answers to BGP requests for border crossings.

Article continues at io9.

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  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    It isn’t really a question. It’s just a fact. The overwhelming majority of internet users access the web via a handful of huge monolithic corporations…all of which merrily suck ass and tongue balls when government comes to call. If Uncle Sam rattled the sabers and made with the scary talk…no matter how mighty and free we all think we are…our devices would be useless when our corporations just slam the off switches in the name of civil obedience and national security.

    Unless a suitable number of Americans start switching to innovative new generation tech and create new platforms for web access(not just services or sites…but mediums by which people can reach the sites)……it will always be allowed to us at the mercy and convenience of the people who have been granted the right to manage it all.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    It isn’t really a question. It’s just a fact. The overwhelming majority of internet users access the web via a handful of huge monolithic corporations…all of which merrily suck ass and tongue balls when government comes to call. If Uncle Sam rattled the sabers and made with the scary talk…no matter how mighty and free we all think we are…our devices would be useless when our corporations just slam the off switches in the name of civil obedience and national security.

    Unless a suitable number of Americans start switching to innovative new generation tech and create new platforms for web access(not just services or sites…but mediums by which people can reach the sites)……it will always be allowed to us at the mercy and convenience of the people who have been granted the right to manage it all.

    • Haystack

      And if the Wikileaks donations debacle proves anything, it’s that such corporations are more than happy to fall in line when asked.

      • Hadrian999

        the capability is there but it would be the most counterproductive thing for the us government, the very small minority of active demonstrators would be nothing compared to the tidal wave of irate zynga gamers with nothing to do without farmville

  • Other Mr. T.

    If they try it here in US with their “internet kill switch” idea, it would be much harder than in Egypt. What have they got for ISP – Vodafone and a couple of foreign cell phone co’s ? Here, the government would have to shutdown the whole of US private sector (landline) dialup phone, cell phone and cable ISP’s, college and tradeschool dialin servers and wifi range servers, then state and municipal wifi and local ISP contractors, then the real peer to peer adhoc ISP bumpers and I haven’t even got to the “black p2p” networks. It certainly wouldn’t take a single day and would take alot of cooperation or force to accomplish. I expect that foreign help will arrive in the form of dialin proxy chain lists and piggyback packeting and other fun and exciting experimentation in wacky hackery. Flipping the “internet kill switch” would be the beggining not the end of the real “cyberwar”, all they could do would be to tear down parts of the search engine searchable world. That and targeted attacks of address specific server space would be all they could do. It would mobilize an army of domestic and several armies of foreign hackers into action. Hope the dirtyspook/dirtycop/dirtybanker clusterfuck typs figure out that they can’t control the web totally without destroying it… before they destroy it.

  • Other Mr. T.

    If they try it here in US with their “internet kill switch” idea, it would be much harder than in Egypt. What have they got for ISP – Vodafone and a couple of foreign cell phone co’s ? Here, the government would have to shutdown the whole of US private sector (landline) dialup phone, cell phone and cable ISP’s, college and tradeschool dialin servers and wifi range servers, then state and municipal wifi and local ISP contractors, then the real peer to peer adhoc ISP bumpers and I haven’t even got to the “black p2p” networks. It certainly wouldn’t take a single day and would take alot of cooperation or force to accomplish. I expect that foreign help will arrive in the form of dialin proxy chain lists and piggyback packeting and other fun and exciting experimentation in wacky hackery. Flipping the “internet kill switch” would be the beggining not the end of the real “cyberwar”, all they could do would be to tear down parts of the search engine searchable world. That and targeted attacks of address specific server space would be all they could do. It would mobilize an army of domestic and several armies of foreign hackers into action. Hope the dirtyspook/dirtycop/dirtybanker clusterfuck typs figure out that they can’t control the web totally without destroying it… before they destroy it.

  • DeepCough

    It should be noted that the word “dissident” means “one who does not sit down,” and the internet is the one thing that does keep us all sitting down and complacent, so the worst possible idea in the world would be shut the internet down, that is, unless the government wants to see the sort of anarchy that’s going on in Egypt to the second power.

  • DeepCough

    It should be noted that the word “dissident” means “one who does not sit down,” and the internet is the one thing that does keep us all sitting down and complacent, so the worst possible idea in the world would be shut the internet down, that is, unless the government wants to see the sort of anarchy that’s going on in Egypt to the second power.

  • WhiteRose

    I remember living in Hawaii, which does happen to be part of the US (there is a joke in there) after an earthquake when the village idiots at the power company didn’t do what they were supposed to when an earthquake hits and the power went out, voila there is an internet kill switch :) oh and a cell phone kill switch! That’s when you want a full tank of gas and one of those nifty car chargers. Then all those iphone sissies will wish they had a radio around. F*KN metrosexuals my brother doesn’t even own a screwdriver… Least in Egypt they throw rocks, the kids here are too stupid to know what to do with a rock….

  • WhiteRose

    I remember living in Hawaii, which does happen to be part of the US (there is a joke in there) after an earthquake when the village idiots at the power company didn’t do what they were supposed to when an earthquake hits and the power went out, voila there is an internet kill switch :) oh and a cell phone kill switch! That’s when you want a full tank of gas and one of those nifty car chargers. Then all those iphone sissies will wish they had a radio around. F*KN metrosexuals my brother doesn’t even own a screwdriver… Least in Egypt they throw rocks, the kids here are too stupid to know what to do with a rock….

    • Other Mr. T.

      There has never been a nation-wide blackout in the US, as far as I know, it’s logistically impossible to have a nationwide electric blackout, without several nuclear bomb blasts or other EMP disrupting events. You’d have true social collapse in 72 hrs after the nationwide blackout starts. But perhaps that’s exactly what they’d need to hold on to political power over us. They’d need to destroy the country to save it.

      • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

        You’re forgetting the Eastern Seaboard/Midwest cascade failure from the early 2000′s. One electric system crashed after another, spreading state by state until a massive powerdown was in place for more than a day. I recall it perfectly because I enjoyed buying beer and ice from a darkened store operating on cash only that fine summery day and just chilling with lamps and guitars on the porch with pals and watching the stars because ALL the lights were out.

        It wasn’t nationwide…but it took out a major slice of the US in one stroke…and that was just shoddy infrastructure getting overloaded. It was just a day with no lights for some areas…two days for others…a little longer for a few more.

  • Other Mr. T.

    There has never been a nation-wide blackout in the US, as far as I know, it’s logistically impossible to have a nationwide electric blackout, without several nuclear bomb blasts or other EMP disrupting events. You’d have true social collapse in 72 hrs after the nationwide blackout starts. But perhaps that’s exactly what they’d need to hold on to political power over us. They’d need to destroy the country to save it.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    You’re forgetting the Eastern Seaboard/Midwest cascade failure from the early 2000′s. One electric system crashed after another, spreading state by state until a massive powerdown was in place for more than a day. I recall it perfectly because I enjoyed buying beer and ice from a darkened store operating on cash only that fine summery day and just chilling with lamps and guitars on the porch with pals and watching the stars because ALL the lights were out.

    It wasn’t nationwide…but it took out a major slice of the US in one stroke…and that was just shoddy infrastructure getting overloaded. It was just a day with no lights for some areas…two days for others…a little longer for a few more.

  • Forandb

    Mr. Julian Assange has brought us a method of aiding us in leveling the field for identifying ourselves. From the least of us to most of us. Deceits have plagued our lives and continue to do so. Again from the least to the most. Example; In Briton it is now possible for a citizens to be under observation from resident to work. Through work area and commercial establishments and in transit for the entire day, day in and day out. Personnel info through credit cards usage, associations, legal documents and commercial applications. For them, the least, privacy is virtually non-existent.
    Media exposes what it has been directed and allowed to . A Veil of secret has existed betwixt the populace and its leadership from times of origins. When some measure of exposition of their agendas is revealed, It is immediately discredited, water downed, misdirection implemented, false statements, scapegoats materialize and so on. Similar in tactics as those employed by the least.
    Those in power do need knowledge of their populace in order to lead them intelligently. This has not always been the case. Just as the least will abuse their positions so it will be with the most. New technology increases the ability to obtain far more information than ever has been available from the least to the most.
    Invasion of privacy and its erosion has been escalating. As the least discover the methods of leadership, that have been impressed upon them, will be reflected with acceptance or rejection.
    That it happens now or later is going to be inevitable. Those that seek to suppress education and communication will only come to fuel the expansions of desire to obtain knowledge.
    Evidentially, knowledge of leadership will have to accept that the veil of secrets will dissolve for both from the least to the most. Facilitating transition will be determined by the degree of education and communication . Transparencies between the two forces will become paramount. Societies, will determine their success, by the acceptance of their transparent system and their ability to effect their system through communication.
    Mr. Julian Assange is a positive factor in dispersing of knowledge. He can be an accumulation model point for media and its dispersal of that knowledge to the populace. Its success and accuracies will be exposed by their competitors. NYT would be wise to seek his acquisition.
    Consider ; What NYT is to Fox is as what Mr. Assange is to the world media. Peace will not come to exist through foundations of deceits. Mr. Julian is perhaps one more step in the correct direction on that path…

  • Forandb

    Mr. Julian Assange has brought us a method of aiding us in leveling the field for identifying ourselves. From the least of us to most of us. Deceits have plagued our lives and continue to do so. Again from the least to the most. Example; In Briton it is now possible for a citizens to be under observation from resident to work. Through work area and commercial establishments and in transit for the entire day, day in and day out. Personnel info through credit cards usage, associations, legal documents and commercial applications. For them, the least, privacy is virtually non-existent.
    Media exposes what it has been directed and allowed to . A Veil of secret has existed betwixt the populace and its leadership from times of origins. When some measure of exposition of their agendas is revealed, It is immediately discredited, water downed, misdirection implemented, false statements, scapegoats materialize and so on. Similar in tactics as those employed by the least.
    Those in power do need knowledge of their populace in order to lead them intelligently. This has not always been the case. Just as the least will abuse their positions so it will be with the most. New technology increases the ability to obtain far more information than ever has been available from the least to the most.
    Invasion of privacy and its erosion has been escalating. As the least discover the methods of leadership, that have been impressed upon them, will be reflected with acceptance or rejection.
    That it happens now or later is going to be inevitable. Those that seek to suppress education and communication will only come to fuel the expansions of desire to obtain knowledge.
    Evidentially, knowledge of leadership will have to accept that the veil of secrets will dissolve for both from the least to the most. Facilitating transition will be determined by the degree of education and communication . Transparencies between the two forces will become paramount. Societies, will determine their success, by the acceptance of their transparent system and their ability to effect their system through communication.
    Mr. Julian Assange is a positive factor in dispersing of knowledge. He can be an accumulation model point for media and its dispersal of that knowledge to the populace. Its success and accuracies will be exposed by their competitors. NYT would be wise to seek his acquisition.
    Consider ; What NYT is to Fox is as what Mr. Assange is to the world media. Peace will not come to exist through foundations of deceits. Mr. Julian is perhaps one more step in the correct direction on that path…

  • Haystack

    And if the Wikileaks donations debacle proves anything, it’s that such corporations are more than happy to fall in line when asked.

  • Hadrian999

    the capability is there but it would be the most counterproductive thing for the us government, the very small minority of active demonstrators would be nothing compared to the tidal wave of irate zynga gamers with nothing to do without farmville

  • quartz99

    uh, y’all are making out that this is hard. The internet is not some magic fairyland that wafts through the air to everyone on fairy dust. It runs on cables or sometimes wirelessly but still through a very few main routers, and then branches outward. You cut those, either by pulling cables or turning off the electricity, and voila, no internet to the downstream branches. It really is as easy as flipping a switch or unplugging a cable.

  • Anonymous

    uh, y’all are making out that this is hard. The internet is not some magic fairyland that wafts through the air to everyone on fairy dust. It runs on cables or sometimes wirelessly but still through a very few main routers, and then branches outward. You cut those, either by pulling cables or turning off the electricity, and voila, no internet to the downstream branches. It really is as easy as flipping a switch or unplugging a cable.