Contra-Internet

Contra-Internet

2016

In e-flux journal, Number 74, eds. Julieta Aranda, Brian Kuan Wood, Anton Vidokle, and Stephen Squibb.

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e-flux #74

On January 28, 2011, only a few days after protests had broken out in Egypt demanding the overthrow of then president Hosni Mubarak, the Egyptian government terminated national access to the internet. This state-sponsored shutdown became known as flipping the internet’s “kill switch.” The intention behind killing the internet in Egypt was to block protestors from coordinating with one another, and prevent the dissemination of any media about the uprising, especially to those outside of the country. Peculiarly, it is a death that only lasted five days, as internet access was soon reinstated. More precisely, the internet kill switch unfolded as a series of political demands and technical operations. Egyptian internet service providers, such as Telecom Egypt, Raya, and Link Egypt, were ordered to cancel their routing services, which had the effect of stymying internet connectivity through these major companies. Fiber-optic cables were another target, as the small number of such cables linking Egypt to international internet traffic are owned by the Egyptian government. As a result, 88 percent of internet connectivity in Egypt was suspended in a matter of hours. Notably, the only ISP that remained active during this period was the Noor Data Network, which is used by the Egyptian Stock Exchange.

This essay has been translated into German for WOZ Die Wochenzeitung and slow media; into Spanish for Revista Código and Revista 404; and reprinted in The Anti-Museum: An Anthology, Walther Koenig, 2017.