Several news sources today report that the entire country of Syria is experiencing an internet blackout. Experts and newspapers (The Guardian and the Huffington Post) accuse the government of Bashar al-Assad to be behind putting the country offline, while the government itself blames “the terrorists”.
“While officials have frequently shut down internet and mobile phone access to opposition-held areas since the uprising began in March 2011, sometimes for weeks at a time, they have never before cut web and voice communications nationwide.” Writes Martin Chulov from The Guardian today.
The twitter- and blogosphere are buzzing with reactions to the #SyriaBlackout, #InternetCutinSyria. Many fear that it is not only an attempt at severing the communication channels between the oppositions groups and rebels, but also a way to prevent information going out of the country. How will the rest of the world know what is happening to the Syrian people, in particular the civilians, if all communication is cut off.
There may be hope through citizen diplomacy
In the documentary ”We Are Legion: The Story of the Hacktivists “(2012) by Brian Knappenberger there was an example of how citizens from two different countries can help each other circumvent the censorship of a government. During the Egyptian revolution, the internet hacktivist group “Anonymous” and other individuals supported citizens in Egypt in their efforts to circumvent their government imposed blackout and created alternative Internet connections after the government of Hosni Mubarak closed it down.
In a comment on this CNN article about the Blackout it is asked “Where is Anonymous?”