Feeds

Gates: Killing the internet is easy

Gun power trumps tweet power

Eight steps to building an HP BladeSystem

When the revolution comes, someone's always ready to tell you how Facebook and Twitter are powering history.

The problem is that while they're still standing, governments can snuff out Facebook and Twitter whenever they like. All they need do is flip the "off" switch on the servers, routers, and wireless equipment used by local service providers.

Just ask Bill Gates.

When US TV anchor Katie Couric asked the Microsoft co-founder and chairman if he was surprised that Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak could take the unprecedented step of killing the entire Egyptian internet, Gates responded with an emphatic: "no".

Sometimes, he knows what he's talking about.

"It's not that hard to shut the Internet down if you have military power where you can tell people that's what's going to happen," Gates said. "Whenever you do something extraordinary like that you're sort of showing people you're afraid of the truth getting out, so it's a very difficult tactic, but certainly it can be shut off."

Web traffic analysis firm Renesys tracking the black out encapsulated the enormity of the situation here:

Every Egyptian provider, every business, bank, Internet cafe, website, school, embassy, and government office that relied on the big four Egyptian ISPs for their Internet connectivity is now cut off from the rest of the world. Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, Etisalat Misr, and all their customers and partners are, for the moment, off the air.

And yet the Egyptian protests continue - without Twitter and Facebook.

As US chat-show host Conan O'Brien, himself the victim of a botched power struggle, apparently put it: "If you want people to stay at home and do nothing, why don't you turn the internet back on?"

Next stop: the leader of the free world contemplates its own internet kill switch. ®

The Power of One Brief: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Major problems beset UK ISP filth filters: But it's OK, nobody uses them
It's almost as though pr0n was actually rather popular
Google Nest, ARM, Samsung pull out Thread to strangle ZigBee
But there's a flaw in Google's IP-based IoT system
Orange spent weekend spamming customers with TXTs
Zero, not infinity, is the Magic Number customers want
US freemium mobile network eyes up Europe
FreedomPop touts 'free' calls, texts and data
Apple orders huge MOUNTAIN of 80 MILLION 'Air' iPhone 6s
Bigger, harder trouser bulges foretold for fanbois
'Two-speed internet' storm turns FCC.gov into zero-speed website
Deadline for comments on net neutrality shake-up extended to Friday
NBN Co execs: No FTTN product until 2015
Faster? Not yet. Cheaper? No data
Oh girl, you jus' didn't: Level 3 slaps Verizon in Netflix throttle blowup
Just hook us up to more 10Gbps ports, backbone biz yells in tit-for-tat spat
prev story

Whitepapers

Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.