Monday, February 21, 2011

Following Libya - CNN

Stay tuned to CNN as we bring you the latest regarding the situation in Libya. We are still collecting information from our international sources but there are a few things I would like to note as I discussed on-air yesterday evening from the tech front.

From a tech perspective, what we have witnessed in the past two months is really unprecedented in the history of the web with governments pulling the kill switch on the net. The Libyan government is certainly taking cues from Egypt. According to our international sources the Internet is now up and running but has been shut down twice (Friday evening and Saturday early am). The speculation we are gathering is that the government is keeping it up during the day to keep business running and then shutting it down at night to keep activists groups from organizing and uploading content from protests. Libya is also suspected of jamming Al Jazeera broadcasts and intermittently cutting international calls at times (though our teams were able to get calls through as of Sunday night.)

Social media has had an obvious role in recent movements spanning Egypt, Yemen, Morocco, China, Bahrain and Algeria. And while all movements and protests differ it cannot be argued what a core platform and voice social media has given for successful rallying of democracy and refusal to settle for unjust regimes. Who would have thought the same tools that have us hitting the "like" button on vacation pics could be changing the world at such a rate and offering such a level of national transparency? It is amazing to be able to go on Twitter and find people in each region tweeting on the forefront. I found my best information during the Egypt crisis from a journalist (and Egyptian citizen) on the ground via Twitter.

And let's take more cues from what we learned from Egypt – shutting the web down does not bring order to chaos. It only creates more chaos. And, if you shut down the web, cyber activists will find a work-around even if it is as primitive as dial up connection, fax machines or ham radios. A friend of a friend was actually communicating to associates in Egypt with a ham radio – which I found fascinating. While we are seeing a strong arm in power with "Gov't 2.0" truing to pull a kill switch on the web and cutting communication, we are also seeing "Social Media Revolution 2.0" from the people that is far more powerful.

We will keep you posted as we have more information.


  1. This time period in the Middle-East is not close to being finished and yet will be remembered for generations. Should governments sign a document to protect citizens rights to utilize all communication technologies?

    It almost feels like the volcano effect: Whereas those countries that allow demonstrations seem to have them often but of little effect and they protesters cool off more quickly (consistent small eruptions). Those regimes that oppress their people may have less protests, but when they do happen it's like a Volcano that has not erupted in a thousand years.

  2. Do you think a government would be willing to do that esp at this rate? Its a strong arm of power.

    I think its a fair point in the volcano effect but also with the technologies NOW at hand there is a realization of neighboring countries success and a mimicry

  3. L@@K K-Doll... I wanna know about eye wear for the poor! 8P

    Of course, I'm kidding. I am most interested in what's going on over there and realizing that as I've said many times before, that even our poorest live like kings compared to much of the rest of the world. Certainly, our poorest live better than a starving Ethiopian. Just visit your nearest soup kitchen and I'm sure you'll find plenty of cell phones and cigarettes.

    What amazes me is that all this is happening at once, and while we have some protests going on here nothing to the extent of what we see around the world. All in all, I'd say our standard of living seems to be acceptable enough to keep us passive, even amongst the poor.

    To address Heath's question, "no" a government should not sign such a promise to guarantee communications. Why? Because they'd never own up to it in a time of crisis. It would be a false promise from the get go, but maybe good enough to build a false sense of confidence in your particular despotic regime. As a cynic, I could not possibly believe in such a promise even it were passed through legislation, or despotic WORD.

    And, to your question to the question, "no" I don't think a government would be willing to that anyway, but it's a nice idea, kinda like communism.

    As I posted in response to one of your other blogs, the Internet, or communication devices are not a human right, imho. They are nice, but not necessary, and usually used for infantile communication anyway. Just visit your nearest public library and just look and see what people use the Internet for... in large part, playing video games. On Facebook, you can learn why someone's stomach hurts, and through text messaging, about the same.

    Now, that's an awfully broad brush I paint with there and it is certainly not true of EVERYONE, but in large part it is. That being said, I suppose if we did guarantee everyone the right to communication tools including the Internet... we'd be guaranteeing the right... to play games, which brings me back to another point I like to make about the Middle East and that is that they need to take up Baseball, which is a game... so, I guess I just totally contradicted myself! Damn, not again!!!

    Peace through games!

    Have a good day!



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