As unrest in Arab countries continues to spread from Tunisia to Egypt, governments are cracking down on one of the chief ways activists have been organizing their protests, and that is by shutting down the internet. Syria joined Egypt in disrupting its internet service as a pre-emptive action. By such a move the Syrian leadership hopes to prevent the Egyptian and Tunisian unrest from spreading into its own borders.
Controlling the internet is nothing new in Syria. In previous government interference with the free movement of information Syria has blocked programs that allow people to chat on Facebook from their cell phones. As riots continued to escalate in Tunisia, control of the internet in Syria became more drastic, and then finally, as the violence spread to Egypt the internet was shut down completely.
In Egypt it is being reported that Facebook, which was used as an organizing tool for the successful demonstrators in Tunisia, as well as in Egypt, has been shut down for days. Since last night Egypt’s internet service has been curtailed entirely.
Syrian officials have denied that the internet is down, but it seems clear that there are at a minimum serious disruptions of service, if not total blocking of internet access.