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Egypt, learning from Tunisia, squelches electronic speech

Renesys image This must be the next logical step after the social-media-fueled uprising in Tunisia: The Egyptian government cut off Internet access for customers of Telecom Egypt (the government-owned telephone company) shortly after midnight Friday (local time in Egypt) as protests were heating up. The other broadband providers quickly followed suit, leading James Cowie of the Renesys blog to speculate that government officials were on the phones making offers the ISPs couldn't refuse.

Blocking the Net is a drastic and chilling step, the kind of thing that would be unthinkable in a democracy that values free speech and the free flow of information. Or not: As Wired noted, a bill that Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.), Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and Bill Nelson (D-Fla.) sponsored in 2009 would have allowed the president to disconnect "critical infrastructure" from the Internet if needed in an emergency. The bill left the designation of what constituted "critical infrastructure" up to the president.

The idea drew so much flak, the provision was dropped from a later draft. Besides, the point of the bill, as with competing House and Senate cyber-security proposals, was to keep vital U.S. resources from being blocked or hijacked via the Net -- in other words, to keep them operating in the event of an attack, not to isolate them from the public.

Anyway, cutting off Internet access wouldn't stop people from sending text messages far and wide. That's why the government apparently ordered mobile phone operators to shut their networks down too.


Cairo's restless streets

Is real democracy an option in Egypt?

-- Jon Healey

Credit: Renesys.com blog


Comments () | Archives (3)

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The voice of a pessimist.( Or a realist? For your consideration)

Only a change of the Arab world social and cultural structure will be the long run solution.
However no political movement has raised this flag.

The future?
More problems–No solution- More unrests regales the regime type- Unfortunately traditional historical solution were-!!!wars!!!

What political system can solve the inherent problems of the Arab world?
-High birth rate.--No working places.–-Stagnated society.---Dreaming to impose Islam worldwide by force.- -High percentage population increase.--Increased pressure of limited resources.--The dictators of the last 60 years dint work to solve the problems.--All the ME regimes and religious leaders brain washed peoples mind against external imaginary enemies.--Investing in armies but not in building the future.--Low leaving standards.-Increasing prices of basic food. And many more.
Are the Islamist movements such the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran Islamism the answer?
They offer to increase the social stagnation-To be closed to the modern world- To increase the hate against non Muslims- To encourage increase of birth rate and population.- To promote Islamism worldwide war and terror tool.- Using the democracy system to get power later to ban the ream mean of democracy.
Are the Arab people calling for western type of democracy?
The Arab masses want a solution to the unemployment and food problems regardless the regime type.
Only a few are real conserved about all their other inherent problems.
The western democracy system works in societies that developed for a couple of centuries from absolute monarchies.
This is not the case in the Arab world.


Although this is a good opinion, it seems to be filled with logical fallacies. The idea of the article was to talk about Egypt yet the majority of the piece was spend talking about problems that the US has had with making regulations on internet previously. This presents a false analogy of comparing two very different situations. Not only is it a false analogy but it is also a red herring. In stead of staying focused on making an arguement it deflects attention to when the US was trying to pass a completely different law. It makes it difficult to really appreciate this opinion with the logical fallacies presented in the arguement.


How about Mastercard and Paypal cutting off payment for Wikileaks? Of course our guvm't made them offers they couldn't refuse, which is just as "chilling" for our own democracy.



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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