updated 04:25 pm EST, Fri March 4, 2011
Libya Internet traffic goes silent
Libya repeated history in an attempt to avoid it on Friday with reports emerging that it has cut off Internet access within the country on what may be a more permanent fashion. After having tried rolling blackouts during the night, the Gaddafi regime now appears to have cut it off for over half a day or more. Traceroutes by Renesys into the country fail outright, and Google's search queries coming from Libya have also fallen off.
The strategy mirrors Egypt's similar attempts and suggests it might have a similar failure. Egyptians eventually countered Mubarak's attempts by simply congregating in Cairo's Tahrir Square and otherwise coordinating in person. The country eventually restored access, in part because Google was using voicemail for Twitter to help Egyptians get out the truth during the blackouts.
The outcome for Libya isn't as certain given Gaddafi's willingness to use lethal force against protestors and the presence of armed resistance, but the overthrows in Tunisia and Egypt have been at least partly credited to the Internet both offering coordination through Facebook and Twitter as well as coverage that prevented the respective countries' autocrats from closing off access to the real situation.
Internet use has also had an effect in protests in other parts of the Middle East, including Bahrain, Jordan and Yemen, but with more limited success. [image via Al Jazeera]