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Syrian Internet Almost Entirely Dark, Multiple Observers Say

BY Nick Judd | Tuesday, May 7 2013

Syrian Internet connections appeared to flicker off throughout the day Tuesday in what appears to be the largest disruption of access since the war-torn country was completely separated from the rest of the digital world last November.

Google Transparency Report's traffic map shows that usage of their products from inside Syria has declined sharply since 4 p.m. Tuesday. Also Tuesday afternoon, Umbrella Security Labs published a blog post observing that Syria had "largely disappeared from the Internet" as nameservers — the computers that take requests for resources at domain names like Facebook.com and return the IP addresses of the machines where those resources physically are — became inaccessible.

From the West, the twilight of connectivity in Syria appeared as a series of failures to connect across Internet service providers using Border Gateway Protocol, which is used to disseminate information about routes information needs to take to get from one end of the Internet to the other by navigating through machines owned by various ISPs. Information about blocks of IP addresses owned by Syrian ISPs started to disappear, Umbrella Labs reports, until there was nearly no real way to find out how to get information inside the Syrian Internet.

Syria Digital Security Monitor, a project of digital activists working to maintain connectivity in Syria, reported Internet outages in Damascus earlier Tuesday afternoon. Late Tuesday afternoon, on its Facebook page, Digital Security Monitor posted that there were just three blocks of IP addresses — less than 60 addresses total — available from one ISP, SAWA.

Syria Digital Security Monitor is now proliferating numbers to use to access dial-up Internet access provided through Telecomix, but warns that dial-up traffic is easily wiretapped.

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New Media Sites in Iran Blur Lines Between Citizen Journo, Professional Journo, & Activist

In 2010, Newsweek declared Iran the “birthplace of citizen journalism.” Iranian bloggers were hailed by Westerners as “brave” for their coverage of the aftermath of the disputed 2009 election. A 40-second video of the death of Neda Agha-Soltan during an anti-government protest won a prestigious George Polk Award, the first anonymously-produced work to be so honored. And then came the 2013 study “Whither Blogestan,” which sought to explain Iran's shrinking blogosphere. Of nearly 25,000 highly active and connected blogs in 2008 and 2009, only 20 percent were still online in September 2013.

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