Google and Renesys report Libya Internet traffic has flatlined as turmoil escalates
Amid escalating violence, dwindling food and medical resources in rebel areas, and a mass refugee exodus, Libya has decided to take the chaos one step further by shutting off the Internet. At around 8:00 AM GMT (10:00 AM in Libya) on March 4, traffic flatlines. The move, likely aimed to cripple rebel communication internally and with the rest of the world, has been confirmed by numerous sources, including Google’s Transparency Report, pictured above, and Internet intelligence service Renesys, quoted here: After a quiet week, we received reports tonight that Libyans in Tripoli were suddenly unable to use various Internet communications utilities. Examining the BGP routing table, we saw nothing unusual --- all Libyan routes up and stable. But our traceroutes tell a different story (no responses from Libyan hosts). All of the Libyan-hosted government websites we tested (i.e., the ones that are actually hosted in Libya, and not elsewhere) were unreachable. Google's Transparency Report seems to confirm that their Libyan query traffic has fallen to zero as well. Inspired by regime-toppling revolutions in Tunisia and Egypt, unrest has been rocking Libya since February 15 and continues today, a little over two weeks later. And just as protestors in Libya are mimicking Egyptian ones, the Libyan government has taken a page from the old Egyptian regime by blocking all Internet access; it just took a little bit longer to do so. For comparison, Egypt had been periodically blocking social networks and other websites on January 25 and January 26, but by January 27 had already blocked the entire Web, just three days into protests.
A total ban on the Internet is easy for Libya because there is only one state-owned telecom company, according to Herdict. Fortunately for Libyan protestors, Egypt’s Internet ban had little effect on their #Feb25 revolution, besides damaging the country’s economy. In fact, analysts believe the freedom-squashing ban may have emboldened more Egyptians to take to the streets in support of the ousting of former President Hosni Mubarak. Flanked by Tunisia to the west and Egypt to the east, Libya was a likely candidate for the next site of a spontaneous popular uprising fighting against autocratic rule. Muammar Gaddafi has headed the state since a coup in 1969. The latest from Libya are reports of turmoil. Forces loyal to Gaddafi have opened fire on dissidents and civilians, Reuters reports, while rebels continue to call for the Libyan leader’s exile or resignation. As the chaos extends into its third week, the International Organisation for Migration says that nearly 200,000 people have fled for neighboring countries, including Egypt, Tunisia and Niger.