Late last week, Egypt took a remarkable step to squelch protests that were being coordinated online through USENET newsgroups, social networking and microblogging services like Facebook and Twitter: they took the entire country offline.
While it did take the country effectively off the grid, it didn’t actually work in stopping protests aimed at toppling the 30 year presidency of Hosni Mubarak. Instead, networks like Al-Jazeera kept Egyptians informed of what was going on in the outside world, and even USENET newsgroups got creative with cross-posts from neighboring online nations keep information alive.
Recognizing the futility of continuing the oppression, President Murabak has ordered that online connections be restored. The first web pages to creep back online were of the country’s largest telecoms, Vodafone Egypt and Etisalat, with the website of the Egyptian Parliament also creeping online and visible to outsiders.
It’s a good first step, but Murabak’s trials aren’t over: though he promised in a speech last night that he would not run for re-election on September, the protesters weren’t appeased, as not only did they want his immediate departure but a promise that his son wouldn’t take over for him. If the protests just continue, how long until Egypt is taken offline again? Take a look at ThunderNews.com’s USENET newsgroups for up to the minute information.