Libya Cuts Off Internet Service

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Arbor Networks has reported that Libya’s Internet connection has gone offline, with Bahrain also throttled

Libya’s Internet service was cut off on Friday amidst ongoing protests against the government of Muammar Gaddafi, according to Arbor Networks.

The country “abruptly disconnected” from the Internet at 4:15pm PST, or 00:15 GMT on Saturday, according to Arbor.

Arbor also noted a decline in Internet traffic in Bahrain of about 20 percent beginning on 14 February. Bahrain is also the site of anti-government protests.

Political unrest

In Libya protesters are reported to have set fire to government buildings and attacked the headquarters of state television, with hundreds of protestors taking to the streets overnight. More than 230 peopel have died in the violence, according to a Monday report in The Guardian.

Unrest has also hit Bahrain, Iran, Yemen, Morocco, Oman, Kuwait and Algeria, according to the newspaper.

The role of the Internet in the organisation of protests has been in the spotlight recently, with Egypt’s government also taking that country’s connection offline amid protests. The Egyptian protests were partly inspired by a Facebook page set up by a Dubai-based Google executive.

The Egyptian government’s blocking of Internet services for five days is likely to have cost the country roughly $90 million (£56m), according to the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).

The blocked telecommunication and Internet services account for between three and four percent of the country’s GDP, equivalent to a loss of $18 million (£11m) per day. However, the OECD warns that the long-term impact could be far greater, as the cut-off could have deterred foreign investors from expanding their operations in Egypt.

Industry reaction

Ghoneim’s support was an out-of-hours activity, but Google itself helped the protesters by providing a service that would tweet messages sent by phone, after Egypt banned Twitter. Other social media giants also weighed in, with Facebook upgrading its security after it became known that the Tunisian government had tried to steal the passwords of all Facebook users.

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