In the swath from Egypt to India, five undersea Internet-phone communication cables have been reported cut this week.
All sorts of conspiracy theories have surfaced, from warring telecom operators to Al-Queda to the CIA. After all first reports, now erroneous, was that Iran's major undersea cable node went down. Maybe the CIA practicing information warfare against a non-friendly nation?
Or Al-Queda indicating their dispeleasure at some of the feudal monarchies in the region?
Entertaining, if not troubling, theories. Many of these guesses have ;ropogated on the Internet, where you can read every bullchip theory from "Ohio was stolen" and "9/11 was a false flag operation" to missing and presumed deceased balloonist Steve Fossett was abducted by aliens.
But calm down, people. A far more plausible explanation is offered today by the prestigious Economist magazine:
The culprit is Mother Nature.
It may be rare for several cables to go down in a week, but it can happen. Global Marine Systems, a firm that repairs marine cables, says more than 50 cables were cut or damaged in the Atlantic last year; big oceans are criss-crossed by so many cables that a single break has little impact. What was unusual about the damage in the Suez canal was that it took place at a point where two continents' traffic is borne along only three cables. More are being laid. For the moment, there is only one fair conclusion: the internet is vulnerable, in places, but getting more robust,
I'm inclined to be down with that explanation.