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A Personal Website
What You Need To Know About INTERNET BLACKOUTS

A look at how the Internet works.

The situation is alarming, but not unique.  As more and more people rely on the internet for everything from communication to banking, authorities around the world are increasingly switching it off. 

Deliberate internet blackouts by authorities have been recorded as far back as 2005, but the practice became more widely-known after Egypt‘s week-long government-imposed blackout during its 2011 uprising.

Why do authorities shut down the internet?


In countries where traditional media is tightly controlled, the free flow of information online can be seen as a threat to authorities.

Limiting or completely blocking access is one tool they can use to control both citizens and the narrative around an event.

Authorities use national security and public interest concerns to justify the blackouts, which often occur in times of panic or potential instability.

How is it done?


To disrupt the internet, authorities must order internet service providers (ISPs) to limit access for their subscribers.

Some ISPs – which are often state-owned – readily comply with these orders, others have reportedly been held at gunpoint and forced to switch off the internet.

These orders are often made in secret and carried out by ISPs on an individual basis, meaning companies can sometimes choose which kind of filter to apply.  Aside from a total blackout, content blocks and “bandwidth throttling” can be used to to limit internet access.

Bandwidth throttling is a more subtle approach, in which signals are made so weak and connections so low that the internet is effectively unusable.

“People will generally blame their own connection. “It’s quite difficult to take that leap and realize it’s also the rest of their street, it’s also their city, it’s their country. This means that throttling and partial restrictions on services can be used to cover up mass censorship”. Content blocks and bandwidth throttling often come before a total internet blackout.
The situation is alarming, but not unique.  As more and more people rely on the internet for everything from communication to banking, authorities around the world are increasingly switching it off. 

Deliberate internet blackouts by authorities have been recorded as far back as 2005, but the practice became more widely-known after Egypt‘s week-long government-imposed blackout during its 2011 uprising.

Why do authorities shut down the internet?


In countries where traditional media is tightly controlled, the free flow of information online can be seen as a threat to authorities.

Limiting or completely blocking access is one tool they can use to control both citizens and the narrative around an event.

Authorities use national security and public interest concerns to justify the blackouts, which often occur in times of panic or potential instability.

How is it done?


To disrupt the internet, authorities must order internet service providers (ISPs) to limit access for their subscribers.

Some ISPs – which are often state-owned – readily comply with these orders, others have reportedly been held at gunpoint and forced to switch off the internet.

These orders are often made in secret and carried out by ISPs on an individual basis, meaning companies can sometimes choose which kind of filter to apply.  Aside from a total blackout, content blocks and “bandwidth throttling” can be used to to limit internet access.

Bandwidth throttling is a more subtle approach, in which signals are made so weak and connections so low that the internet is effectively unusable.

“People will generally blame their own connection. “It’s quite difficult to take that leap and realize it’s also the rest of their street, it’s also their city, it’s their country. This means that throttling and partial restrictions on services can be used to cover up mass censorship”. Content blocks and bandwidth throttling often come before a total internet blackout.
What You Need To Know About INTERNET BLACKOUTS

A look at how the Internet works.