[NA-Discuss] Fwd: The Internet Society on Egypt’s Internet shutdown

Eric Brunner-Williams ebw at abenaki.wabanaki.net
Fri Jan 28 21:30:58 UTC 2011

via Dmitry Burkov.

We are following the current events in Egypt with concern as it 
appears that all incoming and outgoing Internet traffic has been 
disrupted. The Internet Society believes that the Internet is a global 
medium that fundamentally supports opportunity, empowerment, 
knowledge, growth, and freedom and that these values should never be 
taken away from individuals.

The Internet Society considers this recent action by the Egyptian 
government to block Internet traffic to be an inappropriate response 
to a political crisis. It is a very serious decision for a government 
to block all Internet access in its country, and a serious intrusion 
into its citizens’ basic rights to communicate.  If the blockage 
continues, it will have a very detrimental impact on Egypt’s economy 
and society. Ultimately, the Egyptian people and nation are the ones 
that will suffer, while the rest of the world will be worse off with 
the loss of Egyptian voices on the net.

However we are most concerned about the safety and security of the 
Egyptian people.  Alongside the rest of the world, we share the hope 
for a positive and lasting solution to the problems that have risen to 
the surface there.

In the longer term, we are sure that the world will learn a lesson 
from this very unfortunate example, and come to understand that 
cutting off a nation’s access to the Internet only serves to fuel 
dissent and does not address the underlying causes of dissatisfaction.

Text Ends.

This is something that matters.

The government of Nepal shut down network access in 2005.
The government of Burma significantly reduced network access in 2005, 
and again in 2007.

I attended the November 2008 ICANN meeting in Cairo, as did some other 
participants in NARALO.

About 25 million people live in Cairo alone. When we were there
two years ago a plurality, if not a majority of people I observed in 
domestic class hotels and malls had cell phones. WiFi hot spots were 
available all around the ICANN venue area, and more importantly, in 
central Cairo, the area that is shown on CNN and Al Jazeera today.

Internet access is a big part of Egyptian urban society.

As my friend Barry Shein, who also attended the Cairo meeting, writes: 
"I was curious about [Press Secretary Robert Gibb's characterization 
of the demonstrators as having middle class aspirations] having 
wandered around Cairo. The protesters looked to me like middle-class 
Egyptians as opposed to galabeah (sp?) wearing working class."

I suggest that the NARALO leadership draft a statement on the public 
interest value of public network access, free of interruption, and 
also free of deep packet inspection, by governments.


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