updated 05:40 pm EST, Mon January 31, 2011
Egypt's Noor last ISP down in protest dispute
Attempts by the Egyptian government to silence dissent escalated again on Monday as multiple reports have emerged that the last freestanding Internet provider has had its Internet access taken down. Noor's ADSL service appears to be shutting down in phases as the Mubarak regime hopes to prevent coordinated resistance. Only the National Technology Group, handling traffic from some banks, financial institutions and flights, is known to be offline.
Some phone service had been restored on Saturday, but Internet access has been virtually frozen since Friday. Local residents have said that many are resorting to dial-up access, some of which has been provided for free by carriers outside of Egypt, to get online and spread non-government news in the region.
Google has gone so far as to volunteer a new system that would let Egyptians send out Twitter updates through voicemail. Calls to +16504194196, +390662207294 or +97316199855 will use technology bought through SayNow to convert the spoken messages to text and automatically add the #Egypt hashtag. People can similarly listen to the raw voicemail through the same numbers or by checking twitter.com/speak2tweet.
The attempted network censorship represents a near-total blackout and is a major gamble for Mubarak's government. Observers have noted that Egypt is often as dependent on Internet access as others for its business and could face an economic crisis if the shutdown persists for much longer.