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Libya Blocks Internet Access As Citizens Protest 93

Posted by timothy
from the welcome-to-libya dept.
An anonymous reader writes "As protests rage across the Middle East, in particular gaining strength in Libya, Djibouti, Iraq, Bahrain, and Yemen over the past two days, Libya has taken the lead role in blocking internet access to its citizens. Residents of Tripoli, Libya are reporting wide-spread internet blockage for most sites, and access to circumvention tools like OperaTor and VPN is also being blocked."
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Libya Blocks Internet Access As Citizens Protest

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  • by intellitech (1912116) * on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:47PM (#35250524)

    It worked so well in Egypt, why not do it in Libya, too.

    • by Troll-Under-D'Bridge (1782952) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:17PM (#35250822) Journal

      If the news reports are any accurate, the main reason for the uprisings in Tunisia and Egypt is economic. Libya is a wealthier if not economically more equal country than either. So maybe the scale of discontent is lower in Libya, and killing the Internet just "might" be the straw that will break the back of the protests.

      But if this move fails and there's another regime change (for better or worse), then the leaders of a certain economic superpower [wikipedia.org] should be worried. On the other hand, that country may have just the antivirus for popular discontent: high growth rates and a more or less regular change of faces at the top, where the Great Leader isn't Papa's favorite but selected by an inner circle in what works out as a form of extremely hierarchical representative democracy.

      • Yes, the Libyan standard of living is better than Egypt's, but then so is Mexico's. If you've been to Mexico, you will see that a minimum wage of about $1,800/year leaves adequate room for discontent.

        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_minimum_wages_by_country [wikipedia.org]

      • by Firehed (942385)

        I should hope that all of the Lybian protesters aren't three years old. I don't think the "knock it off or we're taking away your internet privileges" approach will work - if anything, it should add fuel to the fire. In fact, it should be just the opposite: the government should be receiving the "knock it off or we're taking away your being in power privileges" message from its citizens.

        That's the theory, at least.

        • by sumdumass (711423)

          It's not really the "knock it off or we're taking away your internet privileges" approach. It's more like, it will be harder for you or organize and you won't be getting as much outside encouragement and perhaps manipulation without the internet approach.

          That's all it was in Egypt too. It was to destabilize the protester's command and control metrics while cutting them off from outside influences encouraging them. IF Egypt would have cut the internet a little sooner, it might have worked there too.

          Others w

          • by Znork (31774)
            These are popular protests, not military coups. They don't necessarily have significant command and control structures. A mob doesn't have or need a head.

            Closing internet access is more likely to make people both seek out friends in person, as well as make them seek in-person ways of keeping informed or expressing their opinions. When, what and where isn't really that tricky - most cities have centres and that's where people go, it's where people have gone for thousands of years.
            • by sumdumass (711423)

              Your right, a mob doesn't need to have a head. I never said they did. But they do need to be rallied to a common enough cause at a common enough time, and that's were organization turns 200 people carrying signs from rowdy in a crowd to a 2000 people and growing protest trying to overturn the government. At some point, the concept will grow on it's own depending on if there is any merit to the cause or not (as the people see it).

              As for the centers where people go, so can the government agents, so can the pe

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        To add to that:

        Each one of these places has state control(direct like socialism or indirect like fascism) over food production and allocation. Each also has very poor output and imports food. Each also selects favorites to get the most food based on political pull usually giving certain districts more or less based on their political backing. Food becomes bribes for votes, essentially.

        In egypt, food subsidies provide food for a large portion of the population. In fact egypt is the largest wheat importer of

      • One problem in almost all Muslim nations (and a whole lot of non-muslim nations as well, but they don't seem to be on fire... yet) is that the wealth is extreme badly distributed. The rich are filthy rich, Mubarak and his immidiate family have tens of billions together. That is a shitload of money putting them among the richest people on the planet. These leeches suck their country dry.

        But oddly enough not so dry as to deny all services. And this is the second problem. These countries are getting full. To p

        • The birth rate thing is changing now [nytimes.com], but that's an accurate assessment of how things were, hence the disproportionate skew towards youth in the current Middle East. Making education available for women may be the thing most responsible for the general political stability in the West.
        • by gox (1595435)

          To put it not so nice, Muslims breed to fast.

          s/Muslims/Arabs/

          s/Arabs/poorer Arabic nations/

      • by Anachragnome (1008495) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:27PM (#35251292)

        "Libya is a wealthier if not economically more equal country than either."

        Not entirely accurate. The GOVERNMENT of Libya is wealthy. US diplomatic cables paint an entirely different picture then that you describe.

        The locals...
        http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/07/08TRIPOLI530.html [213.251.145.96]
        http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/11/08TRIPOLI889.html [213.251.145.96]
        http://213.251.145.96/cable/2009/01/09TRIPOLI22.html [213.251.145.96]

        The shit the locals have to put up with...
        http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/08/08TRIPOLI635.html [213.251.145.96]

        The leaders the locals have to put up with (not to be confused with the shit)...
        http://213.251.145.96/cable/2010/02/10TRIPOLI95.html [213.251.145.96]
        http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/07/08TRIPOLI592.html [213.251.145.96]

        With only more of the same shit to look forward to...
        http://213.251.145.96/cable/2008/12/08TRIPOLI936.html [213.251.145.96]

        All it really takes to get Libyan panties in a bunch...
        http://213.251.145.96/cable/2009/12/09TRIPOLI961.html [213.251.145.96]

        So, in reality, things aren't really any different there then they are in other countries we see in full-swing upheaval--we just haven't heard about it in the media...yet.

        • by flyneye (84093)

          It's amazing to get useful information from a diplomatic source as most information not taken in through their eyes is absorbed by the mushroom method. They are kept in the dark and fed shit.
          Proof of concept for me, was upon meeting the daughter of a diplomat to China who, couldn't believe ANY of the commonly known atrocities and examples of human rights violations. Full grown woman raised mostly in China, mind you. Not a clue in the ballpark of reality.

      • The Wikipedia article about income inequality doesn't have data for Libya, but there are some really interesting comparisons you can make among other countries:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_countries_by_income_equality [wikipedia.org]

        • The problem with income inequality is it doesn't show the full picture. Lets say there are two countries each with equal population of 100 people, country A and country B. Lets say that all of the wealth in country A is equal to 100 gold pieces, that is spread around evenly to all 100 people where everyone has 100 gold pieces. And lets say that country B has a wealth of 300 gold pieces and 1 person has 102 gold pieces and the other 99 have 2 gold pieces each. Country A has an equal income equality but yet t
          • You're getting the problem exactly ass backwards. Inequality is the problem. Psychological and sociological studies show that unequal distribution of resources is seen by most people as worse than lack of resources.

            In your example the people of country A, (who, I assume, you mean have 1 gold piece each, not 100) would be happier than the 99 people of country B with 2 gold pieces each. Crime in country A would probably be lower, health outcomes would tend to be better.

            • by khallow (566160)

              You're getting the problem exactly ass backwards. Inequality is the problem. Psychological and sociological studies show that unequal distribution of resources is seen by most people as worse than lack of resources.

              Perception doesn't equal reality.

              In your example the people of country A, (who, I assume, you mean have 1 gold piece each, not 100) would be happier than the 99 people of country B with 2 gold pieces each. Crime in country A would probably be lower, health outcomes would tend to be better.

              Does not follow. Just because someone is perceived as having more money doesn't mean that health outcomes would tend to be worse.

              • You're getting the problem exactly ass backwards. Inequality is the problem. Psychological and sociological studies show that unequal distribution of resources is seen by most people as worse than lack of resources.

                Perception doesn't equal reality.

                Since we're talking about people's behavior her perception is reality.

                In your example the people of country A, (who, I assume, you mean have 1 gold piece each, not 100) would be happier than the 99 people of country B with 2 gold pieces each. Crime in country A would probably be lower, health outcomes would tend to be better.

                Does not follow. Just because someone is perceived as having more money doesn't mean that health outcomes would tend to be worse.

                You're arguing against observed fact on theoretical grounds.

                • by khallow (566160)

                  Since we're talking about people's behavior her perception is reality.

                  Behavior is governed by more than perception. For example, suppose that drinking water is perceived globally as extremely scarce. People might hoard it, recycle it, etc, but at the end of the day, the rain keeps falling and peoples' ability to hoard water is saturated (in more ways than one!). Only in the places where water genuinely is scarce, does it actually have a substantial cost. Reality eventually wins.

                  Now there are clever ways to extend this, say by branding water and marketing it as "good" water

                  • Bottled water? This is slashdot. use a car analogy of be ignored.

                    There is no "observed fact" to contradict my remark. You are claiming that a wealthier person can have worst health care solely because there is greater income inequality in their society. That does not make sense, much less be something observed in society.

                    Make scatter plot of income inequality vs various healthcare outcomes. Notice that there is a nice line. End of story. (Yes, yes, correlation does not prove causation. Propose another

                    • by khallow (566160)

                      Make scatter plot of income inequality vs various healthcare outcomes. Notice that there is a nice line. End of story. (Yes, yes, correlation does not prove causation. Propose another cause.)

                      Correlation doesn't equal causation. Note that income inequality also correlates with average income and GDP per capita, that is, measures of average wealth in a country. Similarly, health care and measures of average wealth correlate.

                      Plus, there is a reasonable model where poor people don't get as good health care as wealthy people and a reasonable model where great income inequality corresponds to countries with poor legal and economic infrastructure which leads to lots of poor people.

                      In comparison,

                    • Correlation doesn't equal causation.

                      Hello? Is there an echo in here?

                      a reasonable model where great income inequality corresponds to countries with poor legal and economic infrastructure which leads to lots of poor people.

                      The USA?

                    • by khallow (566160)

                      Hello? Is there an echo in here?

                      Follow your own advice and there won't an echo.

                      The USA?

                      Single data point. You don't have a correlation with a single data point.

      • by cronius (813431)

        But if this move fails and there's another regime change (for better or worse), then the leaders of a certain economic superpower [People's Republic of China] should be worried.

        I'm not so sure about that. The thing about China is that its citizens are "brainwashed" for lack of better terms. I think the majority is actually comfortable with the political situation.

        An ex-coworker of mine had a Chinese wife, and I asked him if they ever talk about politics at home. He basically replied: "We don't talk about it much, but my understanding is that in China politics is a "non-issue." People generally think it's up to the government to handle any political issues, and seldom get involved

        • by khallow (566160)

          I'm not so sure about that. The thing about China is that its citizens are "brainwashed" for lack of better terms. I think the majority is actually comfortable with the political situation.

          It'd probably take a major failure of the government to change that attitude. For the USSR, it took Chernobyl.

      • by BeShaMo (996745)
        China already had their protests [wikipedia.org], and the protesters got more or less what they wanted, although over a longer time frame. I'm not saying there couldn't be isolated protests, for instance in some of the oppressed rural areas, in fact there often are, but most Chinese are content enough to leave the government alone.
    • by Yvanhoe (564877)
      Actually, when I first so the report of these on twitter, they said "Libya's internet has been mubaraked".

      http://randomoverload.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/02/952ec538fb11b141.jpg.jpg [randomoverload.com]
  • by www.sorehands.com (142825) on Friday February 18, 2011 @08:58PM (#35250630) Homepage

    If there is commentary they don't like, they will seize the domains. If there is protest, they shut down the internet. If there is risk of protest, they will set up an internet kill switch.

    I'm glad I'm in the United States of America, a country that fights censorship. I'm in the United States of America, oh, never mind.

    • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

      by scottbomb (1290580)

      Nevermind is right. Dear Leader Obama is trying to get his own internet kill switch.

      • You mean "dear leader Lieberman."

        • by Flyerman (1728812)

          Pretending they are a separate entity is pretty silly.

          • Huh? Lieberman does not even like Obama. He did not support him for president and was very key in destroying his banking regulation reform. They are definitely not the same person.

        • by e9th (652576)
          Do you think that if such a bill were to pass, Obama would veto it?
          • No. For being part of the "pro civil rights and anti-war party" Obama sure isn't pro either. If he didn't object to the extremely unconstitutional PATRIOT act, he isn't going to object to an internet kill switch.

            But such is what you get when you vote for the RepubloCrats.
      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by jbeach (852844)
        And the Republicans will vote for it. Would have already, if Bush had realized there was an Internet.

        Don't get me wrong, no President should have that power. But to imply this reach for censorship is something specific to Obama is inaccurate in my view.

        That said, if the Republicans manage to keep Obama from adding that power to the Executive Branch, they will for once be doing America a favor.
    • by artor3 (1344997) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:27PM (#35250902)

      Give it a rest already. There will NEVER be an internet shutdown in the US in response to a protest. You know why? Because our leaders are a fuckton smarter than the tinpot dictators in the Middle East, and are smart enough to know that the best way to prevent revolt is to provide the people with bread and circuses. Shutting down the internet would snap the masses out of their stupor.

      Instead, they'll do what they did for the Iraq War protests. Paint the protesters as lazy slackers with nothing better to do, and ignore them.

      • by ebonum (830686)

        Indeed. For Egypt, the servers are far away in another country. They have no access. The US would never shut down the access because the government can get access to the servers. The server logs that must be kept ( fighting terrorists ) are a gold mine of IP addresses and who is doing what. Shut down the services and you lose the ability to spy with ease.

      • I disagree. People always think that it could never happen here because we are the exception to the rule. But time and time it was proven false. The real reason why the internet won't be shut down because of protests is because of a lack of real protesters. When it comes down to it, the vast, vast majority of Americans have no real principles that the odds of a successful protest starting and continuing are slim until things really start getting out of hand (hyperinflation, etc.).

        After all, if you came
        • by artor3 (1344997)

          I'm not saying it can't happen here because of American Exceptionalism, or any bullshit like that. I'm saying our leaders are smart enough to know it's counter-productive. And for the record, it wouldn't happen in England or Germany or Japan or any other first world democracy. And that's because in a democracy, the leaders are by definition the ones who are savvy enough to get elected. The sort of people stupid enough to think that shutting down the internet will quell protests are too hamfisted to atta

        • by izomiac (815208)

          I disagree. People always think that it could never happen here because we are the exception to the rule. But time and time it was proven false. The real reason why the internet won't be shut down because of protests is because of a lack of real protesters. When it comes down to it, the vast, vast majority of Americans have no real principles that the odds of a successful protest starting and continuing are slim until things really start getting out of hand (hyperinflation, etc.).

          So... we're an exception to the rule since our populace has so few principles? IMHO, the reason we don't protest is because we're content, and content people in any country don't seek to destabilize it. Our government doesn't need to shutdown the internet, and doing so would only generate malcontents. Heck, even on a bad day our political situation is still quite good, but our life is pretty good in general, so that's what idle people focus on.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        "Because our leaders are a fuckton smarter than the tinpot dictators in the Middle East"

        That has been refudiated.

  • Are Thuraya satellite phones still working? Libya have been trying to jam these for a long time I believe, at least in areas close to Tripoli
  • by hduff (570443)

    No Internet?

    Libya is doomed!

  • I guess they just saw how well it went for Egypt and decided it was a win-win.

    • by sumdumass (711423)

      Not really. they saw how Egypt didn't get it done soon enough and the protests gained too much momentum and couldn't be controlled.

      They are learning from Egypt's mistakes and doing it sooner.. before the protests are at a level they need to be really concerned about.

  • How long before the Governor of Wisconsin blocks the Internet for his people?

    I hear he's bringing in some Koch Brothers employees on camels tomorrow.

    • What does breaking up destructive public sector unions have to do with Internet access? It is the unions that are trying to block things, state government in particular, not the governor.

      • Woa, Woa, Woa, thats not the narrative most slashdot readers choose to subscribe to. Be careful there.

      • Exactly. I for one admire the Wisconsin governor for standing up for balanced budgets and reducing entitlements.
        • There is more to it than achieving a balanced budget, although that would be very nice.

          The Dems are crying that union busting is going on here and that is exactly right and it is a good thing.

          Public sector unions don't make any sense when you think about it for a second. How can they represent employees in bargaining with employers, when employers are the taxpayers (which includes those same union members). They are the employees and employers at the same time! The pay negotiation for public sector workers

  • by Krystalo (1580077) on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:08PM (#35250742)
    This article has some more information: http://www.zdnet.com/blog/facebook/libya-blocks-access-to-facebook-al-jazeera-others/302 [zdnet.com] It doesn't look like the whole Internet is blocked, yet.
  • by floydman (179924) <floydman@gmail.com> on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:31PM (#35250930)

    and it did NOT work!
    I was one of the ppl, who actually joined the revolution due to the fact that I did not have an internet connection.
    So i went to Tahrir square. To my surprise, i found thousands like myself, who found themselves there because they could not
    get their updates online, so decided to go see whats going on, and then latter on got involved. It even got worse when the gov. cut of news channles like Jazeera.
    What i am noticing is extreme insanity, because you would think that there is some kind of analyst or adviser who saw that happen in Egypt and decided it was a bad idea, but nooooo..they are just too smart for that. Its the same school of thought i guess.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday February 18, 2011 @09:41PM (#35250982)
    Is that bad?
    • by Maelwryth (982896)
      "....temporarily thrust the nation into its most severe maelstrom of productivity since 1992."

      From the Onion [theonion.com].

  • Maybe this is motivation for contributing to the Freedom Box project: http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/721744279/push-the-freedombox-foundation-from-0-to-60-in-30 [kickstarter.com]

  • by Palpatine_li (1547707) on Friday February 18, 2011 @10:12PM (#35251202)
    1. advise the leader to cut off Internet 2. youngling without porn goes to street 3. ??? 4. Profit!
  • more to go.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    bit.ly isn't going to work next time i need it?

  • by Mr.Bananas (851193) on Friday February 18, 2011 @11:46PM (#35251678)
    http://www.faqs.org/rfcs/rfc1149.html [faqs.org]

    The dictators may intimidate the two or three ISPs into shutting off the internet, but they can't shoot all the birds out of the sky!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Arbor Networks has been providing some really good graphs detailing typical usage and sudden drops of internet traffic [monkey.org].

  • http://nic.ly/ [nic.ly] is down (and not resolving) as a result of this, and at least a couple of the root servers for .ly (dns.lttnet.net and dns1.lttnet.net) are down, although out-of-country resolution is still functional (although, it's not clear to me if they're simply running off of caches). I suspect bit.ly is pretty happy they've been pimping j.mp lately. :)
  • As the governmetns are starting to figure out, blocking the internet does disrupt the ability for organizers to get the word out (eg. everyone protest at these specific locations at these times), but once you shut the internet off for everyone, it magnifies the amount of people suddenly upset (and now with nothing better to do but join in). I recall seeing some quote by a protestor who said "we had nothing better to do" once the internet was off so they joined in the rapidly-growing protests.

  • They also fired on people, killing 84 [hrw.org]. Somehow they don't seem to understand that killing people will only make their situation worse. Libya will probably follow the same path as Egypt did, at least I certainly hope so. It's time for the people to take the power back.

  • Our politicians are positively tickled by the idea of an internet kill switch... [mcclatchydc.com]

    By Glenn Garvin | The Miami Herald (A McClatchy Paper)

    Virtually at the same moment Obama was demanding that Egypt stop monkeying with Facebook and Twitter, Maine's imitation-Republican Sen. Susan Collins announced that she plans to reintroduce a bill that died in Congress last year. Collins gave the bill a smiley-face name, the Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act. Internet geeks, about the only people who've noticed what the government is up to, prefer to call it the Kill-Switch Bill, because that's what it would do: Give the president the authority to turn off the Internet whenever he pleases.

    The bill (assuming Collins follows through on her announced plan to keep it substantially the same as the one she sponsored previously) would give the president the right to declare "a national cyber emergency" and seize authority over any part of the Internet he decides is "vital" to the "economic security, public health or safety of the United States, any state, or any local government." And just in case that's not broad enough, the bill also allows him to snatch anything the White House deems "appropriate."

    But this is America, dammit, so the bill includes safeguards for our liberties. The president can only grab stuff for four months at a time. And while the bill says his designations on which parts of the Internet are "vital" are not subject to judicial review, he will have the advice of an enormous new cyberspace bureaucracy presided over by one of our most civil-liberties-sensitive agencies ... the airport-gropers of Homeland Security.

    [...]

    Even more ominous was an interview given last year by Collins' supporter, Sen. Joe Lieberman of Connecticut. "We need the capacity for the president to say, Internet Service Provider, we've got to disconnect the American Internet from all traffic coming in from another foreign country," Lieberman told CNN. "Right now, China, the government, can disconnect parts of its Internet in a case of war. We need to have that here, too."

    What makes me laugh is the author's pretending - downright posturing - that America's right doesn't want an internet kill switch...lollll...the right will do the "reluctantly signed of on" gig in public, and celebrate in private. You only have to watch Fox for a half hour to see that our right ain't real thrilled with the idea of the American people having untimely access to the inconvenient truth.

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