Wednesday, March 9, 2011

What Libya Learned from Egypt

This is an interesting article it's an amazing time we live in. The Internet is helping people communicate in spite of the actions of their government. As Wael Ghonim, the Google executive who helped jumpstart Egypt's democratic revolution said, "The power of the people is much stronger than the people in power."


Libya's nationwide Internet blackout is entering its second full day. From a technical standpoint, it's clear that this is a very different strategy than the one used by Egypt in the last days of the Mubarak regime. The ultimate outcome is probably going to be the same. Let's take a few minutes to compare the two, and think about the implications for future Internet engagements in the Jasmine Revolution.


First, the facts as we know them. We observed nearly every host inside Libya becoming unresponsive on the afternoon of Thursday, March 2nd. You could attempt to "ping" them, send a traceroute along the path to them, try to retrieve pages, try to look up domain names ... but in nearly every case, there was no response. Simultaneously, we heard reports that all of the classic Internet communication services like Skype were down, and external websites were unreachable. To top it off, the Google Transparency Report showed query traffic from within Libya flatlining, and not recovering.

So far, these symptoms match what was experienced during the Egyptian Internet blackout pretty closely. But the underlying technical implementation couldn't have been more different. Look very closely at that Google plot again, and observe the floor. It's not perfectly flat, is it? That's because the Libyan Internet is actually still alive, even though almost all traffic is blocked from traversing it. The BGP routes to Libya are still intact, which means that the Libyan ISP's border routers are powered on and the fiberoptics are lit. In fact, we've identified a handful of isolated live IP addresses inside Libya, responding to ping and traceroute, and presumably passing traffic just fine. Someone in Libya is still watching YouTube, even though the rest of the country is dark.

For the rest of the story...

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