Syria's Internet Just Went Entirely Dark

The Citizen's Guide to the Future
Nov. 29 2012 10:50 AM

Syria's Internet Just Went Entirely Dark

Akamai chart on Syria blackout
A chart from the Web-infrastructure firm Akamai supports Renesys' observations that Syria's Internet suddenly shut down nationwide today.

Image courtesy of Akamai via Twitter

The research firm Renesys reported this morning that Syria’s international Internet connection effectively shut down starting at 12:26 p.m. local time (5:26 a.m. eastern time) Thursday. The firm earlier estimated that 92 percent of all routed networks in the country were offline. Its latest report, however, says that “all 84 of Syria's IP address blocks have become unreachable, effectively removing the country from the Internet.” The AP is reporting that a second U.S.-based Internet-monitoring firm, Akamai, also shows Syria entirely offline.

Meanwhile, scattered reports via Twitter suggest that some of the country’s landline and cell phone connections may also be experiencing problems, though that has not been confirmed. An AP report earlier this morning cited anti-government activists blaming the government for the shutdown. It noted that “the government has previously cut phone lines and Internet access in areas where regime forces are conducting major military operations.” But a total shutdown is unprecedented.

Advertisement

As I write this, major Syria-based sites such as that of the government-run Syrian Arab News Agency (SANA) are indeed unreachable.

Assuming that the government is behind the blackout, it’s a scary time for opponents of the brutal Bashar al-Assad regime, which might take such a step in preparation for a particularly bloody military crackdown. But it also stinks of desperation: The doomed regimes in Egypt and Libya took similar steps during the revolutions in those countries last year.

SANA offline
Syria's government-run news website was unreachable Thursday morning.

Screenshot / SANA

UPDATE, 11:08 a.m.: Reuters links the shutdown to intense clashes between government and rebel forces along the main road to the Damascus airport, which is now closed. Fighting is "heavier in that area than at any other time in the conflict," Reuters reports, with the government bringing in army reinforcements as the rebels advance toward the airport, perhaps in a bid to thwart the import of military equipment.

The Reuters story also contains this ominous line: "A Syrian security source told Reuters on condition of anonymity that the army had started a 'cleansing operation' in the capital to confront rebel advances."

Future Tense is a partnership of SlateNew America, and Arizona State University.

Will Oremus is Slate's senior technology writer.

TODAY IN SLATE

History

The Self-Made Man

The story of America’s most pliable, pernicious, irrepressible myth.

Michigan’s Tradition of Football “Toughness” Needs to Go—Starting With Coach Hoke

Does Your Child Have “Sluggish Cognitive Tempo”? Or Is That Just a Disorder Made Up to Scare You?

The First Case of Ebola in America Has Been Diagnosed in Dallas

Windows 8 Was So Bad That Microsoft Will Skip Straight to Windows 10

Politics

Mad About Modi


Why the controversial Indian prime minister drew 19,000 cheering fans to Madison Square Garden.


Building a Better Workplace

You Deserve a Pre-cation

The smartest job perk you’ve never heard of.

Don’t Panic! The U.S. Already Stops Ebola and Similar Diseases From Spreading. Here’s How.

Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD

The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 30 2014 9:33 PM Political Theater With a Purpose Darrell Issa’s public shaming of the head of the Secret Service was congressional grandstanding at its best.
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 30 2014 7:02 PM At Long Last, eBay Sets PayPal Free
  Life
Gaming
Sept. 30 2014 7:35 PM Who Owns Scrabble’s Word List? Hasbro says the list of playable words belongs to the company. Players beg to differ.
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 30 2014 12:34 PM Parents, Get Your Teenage Daughters the IUD
  Slate Plus
Behind the Scenes
Sept. 30 2014 3:21 PM Meet Jordan Weissmann Five questions with Slate’s senior business and economics correspondent.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 30 2014 8:54 PM Bette Davis Talks Gender Roles in a Delightful, Animated Interview From 1963
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 30 2014 7:00 PM There’s Going to Be a Live-Action Tetris Movie for Some Reason
  Health & Science
Medical Examiner
Sept. 30 2014 6:44 PM Ebola Was Already Here How the United States contains deadly hemorrhagic fevers.
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 30 2014 5:54 PM Goodbye, Tough Guy It’s time for Michigan to fire its toughness-obsessed coach, Brady Hoke.