Practical Technology

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Bahrain’s death toll grows and its Internet slows

Bahrain’s dictatorship looked at what has happened in Tunis and Egypt and decided that bullets would serve its cause better than relenting to its people’s call for ballots and reform. This morning, mercenaries of Bahrain, a small Persian Gulf country, overran a camp of sleeping protesters killing at least four of them. At the same time, it appears that Bahrain has started strangling the country’s Internet connection to keep news from coming in or out of the country.

Sources at Arbor Networks, a network security company, told me that “Bahrain has significantly increased its filtering of Internet traffic in response to growing political unrest.” While the Bahrain Internet has remained up, unlike Egypt’s Internet, it’s averaging a pronounced 10-20% reduction in traffic volumes.

The data for Arbor’s analysis was collected by its ATLAS (Active Threat Level Analysis System) network. This system collects Internet traffic data from about 120 worldwide ISPs.

Others have noticed this decrease as well. As New York Times columnist Nicolas Kristof, who is reporting from Bahrain, tweeted, “Why slow the Internet? The #Bahrain govt view seems to be that if it isn’t uploaded on YouTube, it hasn’t happened.” Al Jazeera is also reporting that there are Internet slow-downs in-country and that some Web sites are being blocked.

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