Libya blocks Internet to stifle information about insurrection

March 5th, 2011 - 8:58 am ICT by ANI  

Facebook Tripoli (Libya), Mar. 5 (ANI): Internet services in Libya appear to have been completely halted in an attempt to stifle information about the insurrection.

The move, coming ahead of planned protests in Libya, appears similar to Egypt’s response to the demonstrations that led President Hosni Mubarak to step down on February 11.

The Libyan government controls the country’s primary internet service provider.

Arbor Networks, a US network security company, said Friday that all internet traffic coming in and out of Libya had ceased, starting about 7 p.m. local time.

Google’s transparency report, which shows traffic to the company’s sites from various countries, also showed that internet traffic had fallen to zero in Libya.

In Libya, only about six per cent of Libyans have internet access in the home or in public places, such as internet cafes, according to the research group OpenNet Initiative. That compares with 24 per cent of Egyptians and 81 per cent of people in the US, according to OpenNet.

As a result, social network services such as Facebook and Twitter have played a marginal role in galvanising anti-government protesters.

The loss of Internet access will make it more difficult for Libyans, particularly those living in the capital of Tripoli, to receive updates about the uprising in other parts of the country.

It will also make it tougher for people outside the country to know how the uprising is unfolding. It is still not clear, according to the Sydney Morning Herald, whether mobile phone services in Libya have also been disrupted.

Libya has one of the highest concentrations of mobile phone users in Africa. The Libyan government owns the country’s two mobile phone operators. (ANI)

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