Egyptian government orders mobile shutdown

Summary:The Egyptian government has ordered major mobile operators in Egypt to cease services across the country, as mass protests against the authorities continue for a fourth day.Vodafone Egypt said on Friday that the Egyptian government had ordered mobile provision to be restricted.

The Egyptian government has ordered major mobile operators in Egypt to cease services across the country, as mass protests against the authorities continue for a fourth day.

Vodafone Egypt said on Friday that the Egyptian government had ordered mobile provision to be restricted.

"All mobile operators in Egypt have been instructed to suspend services in selected areas," Vodafone Egypt said in a statement. "Under Egyptian legislation the authorities have the right to issue such an order and we are obliged to comply with it. The Egyptian authorities will be clarifying the situation in due course."

Internet service provision has also been severely limited, according to security researchers from Trend Micro. Many of the major internet service providers (ISPs), such as Vodafone Raya and Link Egypt, disappeared from the internet at 10.30pm UTC on Thursday, Trend Micro security researcher Rik Ferguson told ZDNet UK on Friday.

"On a technical level, it looks like the major ISPs have stopped advertising their networks, and all the changes to the Border Gateway Protocol happened at once," said Ferguson. "At the moment, .eg addresses cannot be resolved. This is the first time we've seen a country trying to isolate itself from the internet."

The protests in Egypt are against the government of president Hosni Mubarak, and have become increasingly violent. One BBC journalist was beaten over the head with an iron bar by police while reporting on the demonstrations on Friday. Turner said that the government may be trying to stop protesters and others from communicating with each other and the outside world.

Only one ISP, Noor Data Networks, remained available, said Ferguson. This is the provider used by the Egyptian Stock Exchange.

James Cowie, a researcher with internet analysis company Renesys, said in a blog post that ISPs Telecom Egypt and Etisalat Misr were also unavailable.

Dina Matar, a lecturer in Arab media and political communication at the School of Oriental and African Studies (Soas), told ZDNet UK on Friday that approximately 20 million internet users had been cut off.

"The Egyptian authorities have cut off mobile networks, following the severance of internet connections, in a clear attempt to deter further mobilisation and coordination," said Matar. "In the attempt to stop the frenzied online spread of dissent against president Hosni Mubarak's 30-year rule, not only Facebook and Twitter but the entire internet was shut down overnight, leaving some 20 million users stranded."

Matar said that the economic impact of limiting internet communications on Friday would be lessened, as Friday is a holiday. However, previous demonstrations had caused ructions in the stock market, Matar added.

Topics: Security

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Tom is a technology reporter for ZDNet.com, writing about all manner of security and open-source issues.Tom had various jobs after leaving university, including working for a company that hired out computers as props for films and television, and a role turning the entire back catalogue of a publisher into e-books.Tom eventually found tha... Full Bio

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