Dictatorship 101: killing the internet plays into the hands of revolutionaries by Lawrence J. Saha, Professor, Research School of Social Sciences at Australian National University

Posted in: Censorship at 11/09/2011 20:39

In the euphoria following the downfall of the Mubarak regime in Egypt, Wael Ghonim, the so-called "hero" of the revolution proclaimed:

"Technology played a great role here. You know, it helped keeping people informed, it helped making all of us collaborate."

He said the Egyptian government was "stupid" to close down the internet because that showed the world Mubarak was afraid. The revolutionaries even had back-up plans in the event of a government closure of internet access.

But according to Yale scholar Navid Hassanpour, the apparent positive role the internet played in the revolution has been misrepresented.

Yes, shutting down the internet backfired for the Mubarak regime, but not in the way Ghonim and many others assumed.

According to Hassanpour, it was only after access to the internet was removed that the revolution began to take off.

In a widely circulated American Political Science Association conference paper, he argues that shutting down the internet did make things difficult for sustaining a centralised revolutionary movement in Egypt.

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