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Egypt Cuts the Net, Net Fights Back

timothy posted more than 3 years ago | from the let's-use-big-metaphors dept.

Censorship 232

GMGruman writes "Egypt's cutoff of the Net enrages the Netizenry, who are finding a bunch of ways — high tech and low tech — to fight back, from dial-up to ham radio, from mesh networks to Twitter. Robert X. Cringely shows how the Net war is being waged, and asks, Could it happen at home, too?" Sure, it could. On the same topic, reader dermiste writes "In reaction to the Egyptian government crackdown on the Internet, the French non-profit ISP French Data Network set up a dial-up Internet access. This way, anyone in Egypt who has access to a analog phone line and can call France is able to connect to the network using the following number: +33 1 72 89 01 50 (login: toto, password: toto)."

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3.2.1. (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042050)

Slashdot that number!

Re:3.2.1. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042254)

Hey - doesn't anyone want to talk about about the fact that the good old US of A is supporting a brutal regime that murders and tortures its own people? What happened to freedom and all that stuff?

If America doesn't really care about these things then it makes you wonder what's going on when they intervene to 'bring democracy' to countries around the world?

Please tell me that the U.S.A. hasn't turned into a force for evil in the world?

It's all shades of gray (5, Interesting)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042294)

doesn't anyone want to talk about about the fact that the good old US of A is supporting a brutal regime that murders and tortures its own people?

If the USA didn't support any regime that murders and tortures its own people it would have very few relations to other countries. It's all a matter of proportion. Egypt is less brutal than other countries in that region, they have a relatively moderate stance regarding international relations, they try not to let Muslim radicals do too much harm.

Don't get me wrong, I think Mubarak should step down, but Obama is right in taking a cautious approach to that crisis.

Re:It's all shades of gray (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042404)

Ok, so what you're saying is that all we have to do is trust your judgment on what is the lesser of two evils? I'm not sure that's good enough.

Especially not for those people that are tortured and murdered daily by the countless regimes that the U.S. keeps in power.

You see your argument can justify involvement with any level of evil, and it suggests that your moral compass is not just flexible, but broken.

And has anyone noticed that the first place that America's "friends" are heading to when they're ejected by their own people; yes its Saudi Arabia - surely the most brutal and unpleasant regime in the middle east. I mean you got public beheadings, execution of women for witchcraft & adultery, routine use of torture, this place has it all!

And once again, guess who keeps this evil and murderous regime in place? You guessed it - it's the US of A.

In God we trust - now pass the pliers.

Re:It's all shades of gray (5, Insightful)

dachshund (300733) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042454)

Egypt is less brutal than other countries in that region, they have a relatively moderate stance regarding international relations, they try not to let Muslim radicals do too much harm.

This is one way of looking at things. The other is that the local population's views aren't (or at one point, weren't) deemed compatible with the U.S.'s strategic and economic interests in the reason. As a result, it became convenient to ally with a totalitarian regime that overrode those interests.

In this view, which I believe is pretty well supported by history, Muslim extremists are more of a symptom than a cause of U.S. policy (i.e., if a regime crushes all of its non-violent, secular opponents, sooner or later you'll be left with fanatics who are willing to die for their cause). For a great view on this, look up the history of the U.S. in Iran, and in particular how our Operation Ajax [wikipedia.org] eventually replaced a secular prime minister with a radical Islamic government.

The one thing I'll offer in "our" defense is that these things are highly path dependent. In other words, our mistakes beget a dictator, which leads to radicalism, which leads to our offering more support to the dictator in order to hold down the radicals --- basically the situation you described in your post. It can be very difficult to untangle yourself from bad decisions made by your predecessors.

Doesn't mean we shouldn't try --- even as a practical matter (rather than a moral one) these dictatorships in the middle east aren't going to last forever, and the longer we support them the worse it'll be for us when the shit hits.

Re:It's all shades of gray (4, Interesting)

MrL0G1C (867445) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042664)

If the USA didn't support any regime that murders and tortures its own people.......

It doesn't just support them politically it actually trains their police how to do this: Leaked U.S. Military Manual:

How to Train Death Squads and Quash Revolutions from San Salvador to Iraq. [informatio...house.info]

Re:3.2.1. (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042746)

If America doesn't really care about these things then it makes you wonder what's going on when they intervene to 'bring democracy' to countries around the world?

What's going on is certain rich and powerful Americans stand to benefit: in the case of Iraq it was people high up in the oil, war and religion industries (i.e. Bush's friends).

But it is interesting to speculate what the USA would/could do if it actually cared about democracy: what if the USA offered Mubarak a way out (e.g. 10 billion dollars, a hundred year lease on some land in Texas, and immunity from extradition) - on the condition that he transitioned Egypt to a democracy within the next year or so? What if the USA had made that offer to Saddam Hussein - considering the costs and length of the war in Iraq, the USA could have waited a decade or so until the next uprising in Iraq and then offered Saddam a few hundred billion dollars and still come out ahead (both time and money - not to mention lives).

There's a lot of people who take it as an article of faith that violence is the only way to influence people - but I'd be a lot more convinced of that if the non-violence was tried first.

France has a non-profit ISP? (1)

irockash (1265506) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042054)

I didn't know that one existed...

Re:France has a non-profit ISP? (3, Interesting)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042078)

Yeah it is an association where members split the overall cost of the network.

I'll possibly go with them eventually because other ISPs in france insist on making you pay for services you do not want, like TV...

What's the Catch? (1, Interesting)

Rinnon (1474161) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042072)

Call me Paranoid, but an ISP based in France, that is Not for Profit, is offering Dial Up to anyone in Egypt? Is this out of the goodness of their hearts, or are they charging an arm and a leg? I mean, I know they're Not for Profit, but that doesn't always meant they offer all services free. If they ARE offering it for free... I can't help but wonder what their angle is. I mean, good on them but... why? Also, I wonder how this is going to affect relations between Egypt and France, if at all.

Re:What's the Catch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042084)

Well, you're calling internationally... if anyone makes money off your call it's the Egyptian phone company and maybe the French phone company, not the ISP.

Re:What's the Catch? (3, Informative)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042094)

They ARE offfering it for free, it is an association, there is nothing in it for them. They are fierce defenders of net neutrality, they have been around for quite a while now.

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

the_cosmocat (1009803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042310)

Yep. Exactly. To add an information it's the oldest ISP still in activity (but not as big as commercial ISP and not the same infrastructure but perhaps with more moral values)

Re:What's the Catch? (2)

Aldrikh (1493099) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042098)

The number to call is a normal landline, so the person in egypt would still have to pay the communication itself, but appart from that, it is free.

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

FourthAge (1377519) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042104)

Their dialup capacity is probably 99% idle these days. Might as well offer it for something.

Speaking of paranoia, I wonder if the Egyptian telcos have any way to log callers to that number? I wonder if they might ever be persuaded to hand over the logs to the authorities.

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

Anonymous Cowpat (788193) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042130)

if?
It's virtually certain.

Also, the number is probably already blocked.

Re:What's the Catch? (4, Informative)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042184)

Also, the number is probably already blocked.

If you read their comments there are links to other alternatives, including this interesting link that some how uses cellphones[1], and more people are pitching in.

Also, they have offered some statistics:

Some figures:

The first calls arriving from Egypt (code +20) are seen around 19:30. One every 2 or 3 minutes.

Rarely more than one simultaneous connection. Most are short-term (probably related to the costs of communications).

Also saw some other sources (Iraq, Algeria, UAE, among others)

[1]: http://manalaa.net/dialup [manalaa.net]

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042362)

Muhammed Don't Lose That Number
You don't wanna call nobody else
Send it off in a letter to Yusef

Re:What's the Catch? (2)

rtfa-troll (1340807) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042228)

I guess you have noticed this thing called a "phone bill" that you pay. This is made from billing records and traditionally was directly related to the calls you made (nowaday's, with flat rate, it's more complex than that). Every telephone exchange in existence automatically records the outgoing calls you make. Even 99% of PBXs (with the exception of a few where the users deliberately throw away the information).

I wonder if volunteers messing around in this area are not generally doing lots of harm. At the very least try to give your users plausible deniability by offering your lines for use by both gamers and professionals or please warn them to try from somewhere they won't be traced to. E.g. warn your users to use a public connection or try to tap into the line of someone else who isn't willing to join the protests (best of all a security official's line - getting the suspicion spread around will help other people to get off by denying they knew about the calls). The same goes for all the stuff like ESR was doing in Iran. If it doesn't look like commercial HTTPS you shouldn't be using it without at least basic identity hiding measures. These measures are very difficult for non techical people, so just rushing in and providing support at the last moment is a disaster. Instead the safer way has to be to provide locals with training in advance.

I'm a bit loath to criticise here since I think it's very important that people do something and don't just sit on the sidelines, but I wish the people trying to organise communications were just a little more careful.

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

danabnormal (1945354) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042110)

I see where you're coming from, but its a sad state of affairs the world is in when a charitable donation of information for what can now be considered an oppressed population must mean theres a gain for the doner. Sad times.

Re:What's the Catch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042282)

A sad state? More like 50 of them.

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

houghi (78078) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042116)

Why would there be a catch? The cost on their side will be minimal. And why not?
So all Egypt needs to do is block all calls to that number and the range of numbers around it.

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

AHuxley (892839) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042204)

So all Egypt needs to do is trace all calls to that number and the range of numbers around it.

Re:What's the Catch? (2)

eric_herm (1231134) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042300)

Yeah, they have nothing better to do that finding who call a number in France. The riots are not more urgent, nor are the medias, the economy, and likely organizing the escape of Mubarack. Nor is more urgent to have a new governement...

Re:What's the Catch? (2)

Daimanta (1140543) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042644)

The government is bounded to doing one single thing at a time. They have, if they are skilled at it, the ability to multi-task like no other because they command a large army of civil servants.

When analysing a revolution there is rarely one single thing that determines the success or failure of overthrowing the seated power. A (current) government therefore has the interest in controlling the flow of information in the broadest sense of the word. If Muburak and his cohorts have paid attention to the role of internet in the flow of information to a new generation(with new predominantly people under 30 years), they will make damn sure that they restrict access to unfavourable information, in this case the french dial-in ISP. In fact, if I was an employee of the digital division of the government of Mubarak(and loyal), I would immediatly place a phonecall to the person who has the ability to monitor/block this address.

This factor might be one of them that determines whether this revolution will become like the one in Tunesia or the one in Iran.

Re:What's the Catch? (0, Troll)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042256)

I don't know why you're surprised. DIALUP internet only costs me $7/month. It's not that much of a burden for the Non-profit ISP to offer free access to egyptians. And the datarate is only ~30k via analog lines, so you could carry over 300 users in the space of one DSL or cable internet line.

Also:

We ought to start shipping the Egyptian citizens some guns. The only thing that will cure their ills is the same thing that cured the Czech Republic - several guns aimed at Nicolae Ceausescu's body. They even posted video of him gasping his last breath on the television and internet.

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042286)

P.S.

Correction - Dialup is FREE from Netzero or Juno. It's so old and slow that it's virtually no burden at all for an ISP to offer free service:
http://www.juno.com/start/landing.do?page=www/free/index [juno.com]
http://isp.netscape.com/ [netscape.com]

Now that would be ironic -- a revolution that takes place at 56Kbps. Holy AOL, Batman.

Doesn't surprise me. Dialup is a poor choice for watching youtube, but perfectly fine for accessing the internet if you're only interested in sharing text and images with the outside world.

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042312)

"The only thing that will cure their ills is the same thing that cured the Czech Republic - several guns aimed at Nicolae Ceausescu's body."

The Czech Republic, Romania. What is the difference?

Re:What's the Catch? (2)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042374)

Ooops. Me not perfekt. ;-) (shrug) I hear the exact same thing from europeans all the time: "New Jersey... Virginia... eh, what's the difference? It's over there somewhere."

BTW there was no reason to mod -1 Troll on BOTH my messages, especially the second one about Dialup internet costing virtually nothing to provide.

Re:What's the Catch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042786)

So how is the American Presidente Felipe Calderón going to handle the current Egypt crisis?

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

Zedrick (764028) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042322)

How would guns solve anything, and what does Nicolae Ceausescu (former dictator of Romania) have to do with the Czech Republic? The Czechoslovakian "revolution" was peaceful - civilized people don't need guns to overthrow their government.

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

RCL (891376) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042382)

thing that cured the Czech Republic - several guns aimed at Nicolae Ceausescu's body.

So Czechs killed Romanian dictator? Or were they just posing with his body to scare their own authorities? And Romania posted videos to internet in 1989? Was it .GIF or .FLI? Uh.

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042662)

>>>videos to internet in 1989? Was it .GIF or .FLI? Uh.

There were videos on the internet in 1989. They were IFF or ANIM format for Commodore Amiga and Atari ST computers. (IBM PC and Mac were not powerful enough to play them.) Ahhh yes... my first porn download.

Anyway..... of course I was not talking about 1989. I was talking about the video you can find NOW of the execution of the dictator (youtube, googlevideo, etc).

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

sxpert (139117) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042490)

Caeucescu was in Romania, not Czech Republic...

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

p0p0 (1841106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042292)

Maybe France sympathizes with the Egyptians. They are familiar with a revolution.

Re:What's the Catch? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042358)

They're also familiar with Human Rights. You know, that thing that supports terrorism?

Re:What's the Catch? (1)

lul_wat (1623489) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042380)

They're also familiar with commiting terrorism http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sinking_of_the_Rainbow_Warrior [wikipedia.org] so .. you know .. I'm sure they'll have a lot to talk about, on the phoneline.

Re:What's the Catch? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042790)

I'm pretty sure that sinking that ship was the French military's finest hour. Greenpeace are ecoterrorists, fanatics that are as bad as the people they oppose, and occasionally worse than them.

the angle is (1)

unity100 (970058) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042458)

you have been conditioned/used to/with capitalist brutalism SO much that, anything that i s not similarly capitalist or self centered is too hard to believe.

Re:What's the Catch? (5, Informative)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042538)

>>>are they charging an arm and a leg? I mean, I know they're Not for Profit, but that doesn't always meant they offer all services free. If they ARE offering it for free... I can't help but wonder what their angle is.
>>>

I don't know why you're surprised. DIALUP internet only costs me $7/month. Netzero and Juno offer it for free (see links below). It's not that much of a burden for the Non-profit ISP to offer free access to egyptians.

And the datarate is only ~30 kbit/s via analog lines, so you could carry over 300 users in the space of one DSL or cable customer.

http://www.juno.com/start/landing.do?page=www/free/index [juno.com]
http://isp.netscape.com/ [netscape.com]

For how long (3, Insightful)

cdp0 (1979036) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042088)

This way, anyone in Egypt who has access to a analog phone line and can call France is able to connect to the network [...]

I'm wondering for how long will the international phone lines work. The gvt. is most likely able to cut those too. Remaining options will then be HAM radio, GSM roaming, if you are close enough to a border and you are lucky to be in the range of a GSM base station from across (but I have no idea about the situation in Egypt), and satellite phone.

Re:GSM Roaming (2, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042320)

Not much likelihood of GSM roaming. Take a look at a photo of Egypt at night from space.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/28634332@N05/5146231463/

Egypt *is* the Nile. And not much near the borders...

Re:For how long (2)

Pascal Sartoretti (454385) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042718)

I'm wondering for how long will the international phone lines work. The gvt. is most likely able to cut those too.

They can't do it too long : the egyptian economy relies too heavily on tourism (see here [wikipedia.org] ).

The same happened in Tunisia a few weeks ago. Ben Ali (the former dictator) quickly understood that he could not cut his country from the rest of the world, because it was too dependent from outside (tourism & call centers). He then left to Saudi Arabia, which might be a good elderly home for Mubarak too.

Better get started on backup numbers... (2)

Goose In Orbit (199293) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042090)

I'll wager the exchanges are being told to block it right about now

Lots of backup numbers (2)

mangu (126918) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042278)

Try googling it [google.com]

If Google is too hard, try these [freedialup.org]

What the hell is the point? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042092)

There is no shortage of international dial up numbers that can be called for the price of the phone call. The latter part is one problem: It's an expensive international call. Also, the phone system is restricted too, isn't it? The other problem is that if you didn't know the number before the network cutoff, there's hardly a way to find it now?

National communication "outages" are when satphones and radio amateurs come in handy.

Re:What the hell is the point? (1)

Nursie (632944) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042270)

I remember when microsoft built an ISP finder into their OS. Do they still? I wonder if that would work...

Toto...?! (3, Interesting)

Ghoser777 (113623) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042114)

Would that be a homage to the group Toto, "famous" for the song "Africa"?

It's gonna take a lot to take me away from you
There's nothing that a hundred men or more could ever do
I bless the rains down in Africa
Gonna take some time to do the things we never have

Re:Toto...?! (1)

ryzvonusef (1151717) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042136)

Actually I don't think so. Running the article through Google Translate[1] seems to translate "toto" into "foo" so I guess it's the french version of the "foo-bar".

Any french speakers want to pitch in and confirm?

[1]: http://translate.google.com/translate?js=n&prev=_t&hl=en&ie=UTF-8&layout=2&eotf=1&sl=auto&tl=en&u=http%3A%2F%2Fblog.fdn.fr%2Fpost%2F2011%2F01%2F28%2FCensure-de-l-internet-en-%25C3%2589gypte-%253A-une-humble-action-de-FDN&act=url [google.com]

Re:Toto...?! (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042150)

Yes "toto" is common fill-in for passwords and first names. It's more like "joe" than "foobar".

Re:Toto...?! (2)

McTickles (1812316) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042162)

toto comes from a lame french kindergarten thing...

0 + 0
  =

la tete a toto

dont ask...

Re:Toto...?! (2)

the_cosmocat (1009803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042348)

Yeah! http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/T%C3%AAte_%C3%A0_Toto [wikipedia.org] Because toto in french is a small boys not very intelligent so there is nothing (or 0 ) in his head. That's why 0+0= 0 = "tête à toto" = "head of toto"

Re:Toto...?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042144)

"toto" is the French equivalent to "foo" or "bar" or "foobar" usw.

Re:Toto...?! (5, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042146)

No, it's just the French equivalent of "foo". The sequence "foo bar biz baz" is "toto titi tata tutu".

If you want to bless the reigns, you should worry more about what's happening in Jordan, rather than Egypt.

Re:Toto...?! (1, Funny)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042168)

Indeed, mod parent up. Others give the same explanation of toto=foo, but not the "titi tata tutu" bit.

Ghoser777's explanation is still deliciously poetic though :)

Re:Toto...?! (0)

niteshifter (1252200) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042556)

The sequence "foo bar biz baz" is "toto titi tata tutu".

Whoa .... you mean if I move to France I can haz titi while coding? Where do I sign up?

Re:Toto...?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042160)

Would that be a homage to the group Toto, "famous" for the song "Africa"?

That's unlikely, in french "toto" is used as "John Doe" in english or as "foobar" in computer programming.

Re:Toto...?! (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042500)

"as "foobar" in computer programming"

In computer programming.- FUBAR - "fucked up beyond all repair" or alternatively "fucked up beyond all recognition".

Re:Toto...?! (2)

hotkey (969493) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042182)

'Toto' in French is the equivalent of 'Foo' or 'Bar' in English - it's often used as a placeholder or temporary variable name.

Re:Toto...?! (1)

the_cosmocat (1009803) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042260)

In fact, in france, "toto" means some differents things... - We have "toto" jokes which is quite similar to your Little Johnny jokes http://fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Blague_de_Toto [wikipedia.org] .It's very common jokes we all tell when we're young, very simple, naives,... - in computer science, we use "toto" to name all the things "useless" where a name is required (variables in hello word programs, debug display, sometimes --secured :) -- login and password,...)

Re:Toto...?! (1)

chainLynx (939076) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042758)

I thought it was a wizard of oz reference... "We're not in Kansas anymore, Toto"

The Cringley article is crap. I want to know MORE (3, Interesting)

sllim (95682) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042124)

Yesterday when I read that Egypt had pulled the plug on the internet the first thing that went through my mind was, 'the people will find a way.'. The second thing was, 'I can't wait to see how they do it. This is going to be fascinating.'. Since then I have been contemplating ad-hoc wireless networks and dialing into 56k modems thousands of miles away.
I have been chewing at the bit (haha! I made a pun!) for any information as to how this little project is proceeding.

The best Cringley's article can muster is a French company offering 56k access for free and the words, 'Wireless mesh network'. That is all fine and dandy.
I am happy and impressed that the French company is offering there resources to the Egyptian people. Big round of appluase for those guys. But the geek in me is not impressed. Dialing out of country to a 56k connection is just so bloody obvious. I want to know the bloody details of the wireless mesh. I want to know about the sap that has hacked his satelite dish to give internet access to his town.

I want more. It has to be out there.

Re:The Cringley article is crap. I want to know MO (3, Insightful)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042172)

I can't imagine that somebody who set up a wireless mesh network or hacked his satellite TV is going to be very focused on reporting the technical details of what he's doing to the foreign press. There's a revolution happening and the Egyptian government is cracking down hard on protesters.

Re:The Cringley article is crap. I want to know MO (1)

adamofgreyskull (640712) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042258)

Those bastards. They're probably too busy blogging/tweeting etc. about the triviality [heraldsun.com.au] of their daily lives [sky.com] . Maybe when they can just about be bothered we can get the much needed details of how they're doing it in the form of a wordpress blog or a flickr stream.

Re:The Cringley article is crap. I want to know MO (1, Offtopic)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042302)

Maybe we should start copying the Egyptians here in the U.S. I'm tired of being tied to the Comcast monopoly or Verizon monopoly, and would like alternatives.

What is this "mesh" network I keep hearing about?
What is WiFi p2p?
What is Netsukuku?

Re:The Cringley article is crap. I want to know MO (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042356)

follow @telecomix on twitter for up to date news on the censorship and how it is being fought against. we have proxies, we share dial up, we have achieved ham radio comms with egypt.

Re:The Cringley article is crap. I want to know MO (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042386)

> Dialing out of country to a 56k connection is just so bloody obvious.

Dialing out of country to a 56k connection is damn near impossible.

28.8? If the phone lines are good.

I wonder if there are any Egyptians left with USR HST modems, and if the dial-up concentrators even speak that any more..

What if it were to happen here? (1)

camperdave (969942) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042706)

Yesterday when I read that Egypt had pulled the plug on the internet the first thing that went through my mind was, 'the people will find a way.'. The second thing was, 'I can't wait to see how they do it. This is going to be fascinating.'. Since then I have been contemplating ad-hoc wireless networks and dialing into 56k modems thousands of miles away.

Just as a hypothetical, perhaps not as a government action, but an act of sabotage, but what if it were to happen here? Suppose your internet went dark. What would you do? Do you have out-of-country dialup numbers handy? Do you even have a working modem? Do you even have a POTS phone line? Do you even have a terminal emulation program installed? In the before time we used to use bbs systems like fidonet; a series of nodes that connected via modem and swapped info periodically. Who's ready to deploy such a thing? uucp? Is it installed?

Cairo residents opening home WiFi to protestors (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042140)

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/egypt-protests-residents-open-wifi-networks-protestors-2751360.html [nowpublic.com]

I submitted a seperate story on this - before seeing this story.
Any ways - I think this gives greater significance to the WiFi p2p protocols - couple of links I can find in a rush:

http://netsukuku.freaknet.org/ [freaknet.org]
http://sourceforge.net/p/widi/home/ [sourceforge.net]

Re:Cairo residents opening home WiFi to protestors (1)

KhabaLox (1906148) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042410)

TFA says, "In removing their WiFi passwords, anyone within range who has a web-enabled mobile device is able to reach the outside world."

What? If people have Net access at their houses in Cairo then this wouldn't be a story. What am I missing?

this is important (2)

phmadore (1391487) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042152)

I think it's extremely important that we all take notes here. Dial-up may be getting phased out, but keeping one kicking around might not be the worst idea. Probably learning how to set up an actual dial-in connection with ease would be good. Because it can and will happen here when the shit hits the fan, and, being a veteran of war, I can tell you that the best way to demobilize and weaken your enemy is to fuck his communications as hard as you possibly can. Indymedia, while relegated largely to the role of aging dinosaur, has still been on the cutting edge of this sort of thing for several years now. It wouldn't be hard for someone to set up a Twitter-like service akin to Identi.ca and use it as a way to disseminate information on streets to avoid and where certain types of aide are needed and what not, in the event of a national crisis like we're seeing in Egypt.

Re:this is important (1)

multipartmixed (163409) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042412)

Setting up dial-in is pretty straightforward. One technique I like to do is kick off either a slipd or a pppd attached to a serial terminal based on the shell in the password file. This way, I can just dial in to a shell when it's convenient and/or I have a very slow connection.

The hard part about it is having a POTS phone line. A lot of people forget that you can't run a modem over a VoIP line. This is yet another reason why I refuse to give up my copper pair...

effect of the 'net overstated? (4, Insightful)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042164)

People like to think of the internet as the answer to "the man" and that it has a grass-roots connection to people that allows them to multiply their effectiveness at bringing "people power" to bear. Is there really any truth in that? Although it's a popular meme among advocates, it does sound unlikely.

For a start, the greater the technological advancement, the more dependent it is on a larger number of underlying functions. That makes it vulnerable not only to someone hitting the kill switch, but to government agents (of whom we can safely assume there are many infiltrated amongst any overthrow plot) sending out false information under the guise of "the people" Whether that's reports saying things are different from what they really are, or sabotaging rallies by sending people tot he wrong place - the problem with believing an anonymous source (on twitter, say) is that they're anonymous: you can never be sure they truly represent who they say they do.

So, while there is/was obviously some use of the internet by some people in Egypt, I would think that its main effect has been to deliver part of the story to outsiders (whether news organisations or just people) rather than to get things going within the country itself. As such, if the only way we have of getting information is through the internet we naturally (and mistakenly) presume that is also how people inside are getting information, too. There appears to already have been quite enough groundswell without the need for smartphones or websites.

Re:effect of the 'net overstated? (3, Insightful)

bogjobber (880402) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042200)

I would disagree with you that the main effect of the internet in Egypt has been to deliver news to outsiders. While internet access is blocked now, the use of social media has been instrumental in informing the population and organizing protests for quite a while. See the April 6 Youth Movement [wikipedia.org] . (Sorry, my work blocks most sites so I can't give a more informative reference than that wikipedia article).

This is a movement that has been years in the making. I imagine a large number of the people involved in the protests (who are largely young, educated people who would have internet access) became interested and involved well before the protests of the last few days.

Re:effect of the 'net overstated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042298)

Is the vibe. The Mojo. The net feeds into a mass of thinking. Controlling the TV stations and the newspapers is no longer enough.

Nope. Obama got 'in' because he was the darling of the moment.
In Egypt, the groundswell is quickly amplified, over and above Mosque messages.
Why do you think TV stations and Newspaper are the first to be shot up/ muzzled in tinpot states?
Thailand and Red Shirts. More successful than Cuba. Africa. More change.

Egypt is going to be a funny case, because the same could quickly happen in Iraq, unless they do a Saudi or Pinochet (ruthless suppression of splittist voices).

Now with internet and iPhones, it is bloody difficult for dictators not to get noticed, and even the stupid and ignorant get to join in, and no matter how you cut it, the next election is not a slam dunk.

Re:effect of the 'net overstated? (3, Funny)

RCL (891376) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042436)

(Sorry, my work blocks most sites so I can't give a more informative reference than that wikipedia article).

Are calls to France cheap at yours?

Re:effect of the 'net overstated? (3, Insightful)

mad flyer (589291) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042218)

you are in denial or full of shit...

Just look at what's happening, how it started and how it's being conducted... The net was not shutdown in egypt without reason... Denying it's usefulness as an insurectional tool or saying it lack reliability is just stupidity or attention whoring "HEY look at me ! i'm going against the flow!!!"

One thing for a start, multiple report from multiple source have more chance to give a good picture than any official newsgroup. It's chaos, propaganda and truth have the same 'timeslot' on the net... it's usually not difficult in these case to see that something is going on, maybe not precisely, but enough to get some part of the big picture...

I'm getting really tired of smartasses like you, you have nothing of any value to add, just bucket loads of improbable "what if" that you try to pass as reasonable analysis...

Re:effect of the 'net overstated? (4, Informative)

dkleinsc (563838) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042232)

There are 2 reasons Mubarak tried to block Internet access:
1. It was being used by protesters to coordinate - reporting on where police were concentrated, where people were gathering, etc.
2. It had this video [youtube.com] of a civilian getting shot by police while he was backing away. Mubarak probably thought that by blocking access to the video the Egyptian people wouldn't figure out that the cops had crossed that line.

It hasn't worked. As a longtime /. sig once put it: The Internet treats censorship as damage and routes around it.

Re:effect of the 'net overstated? (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042330)

>>>effectiveness at bringing "people power" to bear. Is there really any truth in that?

Obviously it IS effective otherwise people inside the Obama and Bush administrations wouldn't be looking for ways to "shut down the MSNBC and FOX websites" to use a direct quote. And people like the Egyptian dictator wouldn't have pulled the plug immediately.

Of course he acted too late.
The information already got out.
He's doomed to be dead very shortly.
The avalanche had already started, and it is too late for the pebbles to vote.

Alternative media sources: e.g. AlJazeera (1)

fantomas (94850) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042346)

There are other media sources to check: good coverage at the moment by AlJazeera [aljazeera.net] .

Some more Reuters quality photos here [totallycoolpix.com] (warning: some show injuries, not nice). Barak Obama should probably not view photo 80, the protestor doesn't look too happy with the 'made in USA' tear gas canister....

Re:effect of the 'net overstated? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042482)

says the government agent, trying to play down the role of the internet in communication among the revolting masses

Re:effect of the 'net overstated? (1)

misexistentialist (1537887) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042600)

Increased communication vastly increases participation which more than outweighs any possible manipulation by the government. The weakness is how easily electronic communications can be severed for most of the participants.

Re:effect of the 'net overstated? (1)

petes_PoV (912422) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042698)

Here's an example of the sort of thing I'm concerned about
A dissident group starts a forum, or opens up on twitter. They gather followers, including a few government "sympathisers". All the followers duly follow, but the govt. people start to make more vociferous posts/tweets, appear to be in possession of more damning/inflammatory information (as you'd expect, from the source) and, while still towing the dissident line, become key influencers in the group. Come the revolution, these people - whom no-one has ever met in person - use the credibility they have gained either to stage a "coup" within the group, post information that still sounds credible but is misleading, or uses their position to betray other group members to the authorities while still remaining free themselves: "OMG Adbul X has just been arrested. I was just on my way to meet him"

On top of that, it's trivially easy for an agency to find who's friended/following who and either take them down (as potential leaders, without whom any opposition would be unfocused and therefore less effective) or to hack/subvert their accounts and post counter-information.

What's worse is the possible retribution after the revolution - either way, depending on who wins. Want your boss's job? Just get his/her work account and posta few inflammatory messages for/against the right people. Come the reckoning, they get the blame. Likewise with all the other followers or forum members, who either expressed an opinion or were guilty by association.

The problem we have with the internet today is its openness. We already know that any child in their bedroom can build a website that makes them appear to be a multinational, or subject expert (provided they don't give themselves away with "Cooooooool, dude" type content). The same applies to dissidents, honeypots and the lack of verification of message sources. In fact, in future it may be that governments do NOT switch off their country's internet but just go into overdrive, themselves, using their privileged position to subtly alter the message, corrupt the content and make their own propaganda much more widespread.

56K (1)

sugapablo (600023) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042166)

Luckily, Twitter doesn't take much bandwidth. YouTube won't be a good weapon at that rate, but 56K should be plenty for effective Twitter usage.

Re:56K (1)

commodore6502 (1981532) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042352)

>>>YouTube won't be a good weapon at that rate

Disagree. I've uploaded 3GP files to youtube over my dialup line. It only takes 10 minutes for a 5 minute video upload. (And vice-versa: Only requires 5 minutes for viewers to download it & watch it.). Remember it only took a low-quality cellphone camera to capture that poor Iraqi girl getting shot last year, and then suffocating in her own blood, to arouse the world's anger.

Wireless peer to peer? (1)

Charliemopps (1157495) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042210)

When is someone going to invent a Wireless peer to peer messaging system? I know it will suck, and there's all kinds of security problems, but in situations like this it would be invaluable.

Re:Wireless peer to peer? (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042414)

We did. Years ago.

http://www.aprs.org/ [aprs.org]

Re:Wireless peer to peer? (1)

Ozoner (1406169) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042684)

A Wireless peer to peer messaging system. What a great idea!

You have just invented Ham Radio. About a 100 years too late.

New song for Mubarak (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042214)

With apologies...

People revoltin' in the hot sun.
I fought the 'net and the 'net won.
I fought the 'net and the 'net won.
I dissolved the cabinet, I have none
I fought the 'net and the 'net won.
I fought the 'net and the 'net won.

I turned off the 'net and I don't feel bad
Twitter is just no fun
Well it used to rock, it makes me sad
I fought the 'net and the 'net won.
I fought the 'net and the 'net won.

Killin' people with a six gun
I fought the mob and the mob won.
I fought the mob and the mob won.
I miss my country and the good fun
I fought the 'net and the 'net won.
I fought the mob and the mob won.

I left my country and I feel so bad
I guess it's time to run
Cause the nation is so very mad
I fought the web and the web won.
I fought the mob and the mob won.

Message from Cairo (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042226)

These are exciting times to be living in Egypt. I'm not an Egyptian myself having moved here a few years ago and the locals are usually wary of me but I have past experience of setting up ad-hoc internet connections and that has proven invaluable in the current crisis. I never travel anywhere without my trusty Commodore 64 and, combined with some string and sticky tape, I have set this up as an internet hub giving access to the rest of the world. Like people everywhere, the Egyptians just want to download Hollywood movies and Linux ISOs and to troll foreign journalists. Now I ahve restored that to them it is like a new age of peace and propserity. Best wishes - Junis.

Does this mean... (5, Funny)

Okian Warrior (537106) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042428)

Does this mean we can get their IPV4 addresses back?

Just 'sayin

Phy disconnect or DNS? (1)

grumling (94709) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042452)

I wonder if they've physically shut down the networks (down, down) or if they just did something like kill the DNS servers? Even in a small network like what Egypt has it would still take a while to get all the network links, towers and DSLAMS, etc. completely off. Even if it would be a little more difficult there are plenty of resourceful people who could get IRC servers and other services up even without the links to the outside world. Most people would consider a DNS failure an outage and it's relatively quick and easy (and just the thing to be sneaky if you have a revolutionary mind).

Re:Phy disconnect or DNS? (1)

lfp98 (740073) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042536)

The article hardly says anything about how it was done. This morning on France 24 news they claimed it was a DNS shutdown by all the major ISPs in the country by order of the government. Does that mean you could get access to all the major sites like Twitter if you just knew their numerical IP address?

Re:Phy disconnect or DNS? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042756)

It's easier to shut down the authentication servers I believe.

How would you do it? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042498)

What if suddenly the all of the internet connections in your country are shutdown by government order? The inception of the internet was to be able to resist such problems. But if all land lines with the corresponding DSL lines are unavailable? With the proliferation of Wifi enable DSL routers the answer could be that simple: let's go radio!! With no amazement I recently found that it's not easy to find tools to construct this idea. Freenet is great but it depends highly on the physical layer. Maybe the Egypt lesson will encourage someone to design some user friendly solution to this problem. Probably petes_PoV is right and in the case of Egypt there is no need for inside communication but it get's you thinking... what if it dit.

Is it so absurd to create a Wifi mesh network that would grow with the help of all the "not so savvy" internauts . The main obstacle would be precisely that: the generation of browser oriented internet users. How can you organize a city wide Wifi mesh network if the majority of users are only familiar with the wireless connection wizard and the web browser. The answer: a all-in-one ospf+dns+http server. Yes the fundamental protocols that sustain the internet installed with a few clicks.

We already have Freenet that gives us the communication layer for a private and DNS independent network. The goal would be to create the physical network. The idea would start withe a single open wireless network and some publicity (via graffiti/leaflets) in the surrounding geographical area. Spreading the words "Connect to the wifi network named FREENET" would suffice. The connecting client's http requests would be all redirected to a page with details on how to connect to the Freenet available in that subnet. The users would also be encouraged to expand the network by transforming their Wifi router to another cell/subnet by downloading and installing a single program (let's call it mesher). Since the majority of ISP stick to a hand full of router models and the same login and password for all installations it would be easy to design a script to change the routers configuration to create a new network cell. The user would be instructed to connect his computer to the Wifi router via ethernet and run the mesher program. This program would do the following tasks:

        * Ask the Freenet for a free subnet
        * Save the current router/AP configuration
        * Disable the wireless security and DHCP server
        * Change the SID to something like FREENET+random
        * Enable OS routing, from and to the new subnet
        * Pass the subnet to the the "uplink" to enable routing to and from all the other subnets

The program would then be running a DHCP directing DNS requests to him. All DNS requests would be directed to his IP address. A new cell/subnet, equal to the main one would have spawned. Iterate that and you get a nice star shaped network.

Besides political propaganda most of the contents of this independent Freenet would be how to create your home made radio antenna to boost your AP transmitting power. With a bit of luck, the network would grow enough to attract some savvy users before the main node was captured. This small group would use extra Wifi devices to connect 2 or more branches of the tree. That would "mesh" up the topology and make it resistant to the knockdown of the main node.

By now we have chat rooms bursting with people organizing raving demonstrations on free speech. Some geeks would also concentrate on the exponential growth of the network. If we still can depend on the land lines to make national calls, the network could become meshier and other cities could join the party. Any uplinks available to the "outside world" could be advertised via the dynamic routing protocol.

If we have that few router models to enables the mesher to configure them automatically and the main node doesn't go down before the network explosion we still have the problem of the government retaliation. The Achilles’ heel would be the subnet assignation process and the routing announce mechanism. The node would be granted the right to reserve subnets creating the possibility of a DOS attack. Poisoning the routing tables would also take down the network. Signing all this requests would do the trick but... would a obfuscated cryptographic key included in the mesher binary, resist an attack by some government it expert?

Destroying a subnet and reverting the router configuration would be as easy as setting it up in the first place. If the police began raiding the easily detectable hot spots, the users should have the panic button program ready for the moment these police officers knock on the door. No easy process to destroy the cantenna though.

Keep those dialup modems? (1)

depeche (109781) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042506)

Perhaps this suggests that some of that 'old tech' should be kept working and around just in case... I probably have a modem in a basement somewhere and I'm equally sure I've thrown a bunch out thinking that they'd never be need again

Crazy to use the dialup (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042596)

If we know about it, then the Egyptian government does too and is probably capturing all the packets AND the source phone number.

That source telephone number will make rounding up those who disagree easy. Eygpt is known to have nasty jails for people who disagree with others on all sorts of things.

Rather, people should take lots of photos, lots of video and communicate with each other using old fashioned methods until the internet is back up. Then they can post (over VPNs) all this data so the actions of the current government are known not just inside Eygpt, but around the world.

Egyptians, find the CNN crew (1)

PolygamousRanchKid (1290638) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042638)

The will be happy to broadcast any videos, pictures and comments, and put them up on the internet as well. If you are familiar with Cairo, just look at the live coverage that they are broadcasting, and figure out where they are. If they have satellite video access, they certainly have satellite internet access as well. And they love to put up stuff where they can say, "CNN exclusive!"

Now, if the Egyptian starts blocking CNN . . . oh, well. Try Al Jazeera.

011-610-867-5309 (1)

Lawrence_Bird (67278) | more than 3 years ago | (#35042708)

I heard Jennie runs her own ISP now too....

All lines down (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 3 years ago | (#35042816)

It is not only the Internet. The Mubarak dictatorship regime also halted mobile phone networks land lines (switchboard networks) and international phone lines to almost all Egypt except few, so those who are calling and speaking to TV and Sat networks are part of the Mubarak dictatorship regime. Opposition currently have only the Sat TV networks on the ground to talk to directly that if if the reporters have not been beaten up by security forces like what happened to many.

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