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Quotes about Egypt’s Internet censorship

January 29, 2011  »  WebNo Comment

Reports of Egypt censoring the Internet are all over the news. What are people saying?

It is astonishing because Egypt has so much potentially to lose in terms of credibility with the Internet community and the economic world,” Cowie said. “It will set Egypt back for years in terms of its hopes of becoming a regional Internet power.” – Jim Cowie, chief technology officer and co-founder of Renesys, a firm that monitors how the Internet is operating

What we are seeing in Egypt is a frightening example of how the power of technology can be abused.” – Timothy Karr, campaign director of the Washington media reform group Free Press

I also call upon the Egyptian government to reverse the actions that they’ve taken to interfere with access to the Internet.” – Barack Obama, U.S. President

Very concerned about violence in Egypt — government must respect the rights of the Egyptian people & turn on social networking and Internet” – Robert Gibbs, press secretary to U.S. President Barack Obama

Although the turmoil in Egypt is a matter for the Egyptian people and their government to resolve, limiting Internet access for millions of people is a matter of concern for the global community.” – Facebook spokesman Robert Noyes

This is night and day. They have gone from open Internet to no Internet, and that has got to be a big shock. ” – Robert Faris, research director at Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet and Society

[The Egyptian government] just can’t cut off the entire nation forever, even if it does serve short-term goals.” – Cynthia Wong, director of the Center for Democracy and Technology’s Project on Global Internet Freedom

We believe that access is a fundamental right, and it’s very sad if it’s denied to citizens of Egypt or any country.” – Google chief legal officer David Drummond

Tweets about Egypt skyrocket on 1/27, shortly after the government orders a halt in Internet access {trendistic}

Global interest in the censorship of the Egyptian Internet by far trumps interest in recent events in Tunisia. Again, the Internet is portrayed as an excellent device to foment regime change (however accurate this depiction is remains to be verified), and much of the Western world may now assume that every Egyptian citizen previously had a way of accessing the Internet. However, it’s worth noting that, as of February 2010, the MCIT estimated Egypt’s Internet penetration at only 21.2%. As of late August, the Facebook penetration rate was estimated at 5% by another source. Therefore, the Egyptian government’s meddling with online services, or even social media affect the majority of the population doesn’t even directly affect most of the society, although the media would make it seem that way.

The real problem lies with the censorship of the press and the prevention of free expression, not the censorship of the Internet, per se. It’s just that “Internet censorship” resonates more strongly with the Western world rathern than the less-catchy “censorship of the press”.