When a Middle Eastern country is in the thick of an uprising, it’s almost expected that challenged governments will shut shut down the Internet to hinder protesters from communicating.
Syria on Friday became the latest country to follow the trend: More than two-thirds of all Syrian networks are unreachable, according to a Renesys blog post.
Al Jazeera confirmed on its Syria liveblog that Internet traffic from the country has flatlined, according to a Google Transparency Report.
Internet cut-offs have occurred during revolutions in Egypt, Bahrain, and Libya. Those countries, along with Syria, have government-controlled internet service providers. Syrian Telecom (officially named “Syrian Telecommunications Establishment”) provides DSL and dial-up services to businesses and individuals. Other providers in the country provide 3G and 3.5G connectivity, but only operate when the government allows it.
The Web shut down comes on a day of intense violence in Syria. Reuters reports that Syrian security forces killed at least 34 protestors in the city of Hama on Friday. The report says forces fired into a group of tens of thousands gathered in the city center of Hama, and “scores” of wounded were taken to a nearby hospital.
Protesters have been marching the streets of Syria every Friday since mid-March to demonstrate against President Bashar al-Assad’s rule. When leaving mosques after noon prayer, protesters have been met by armed security forces and snipers.
Time will tell if the protests will make a significant impact on al-Assad’s regime.
The video below shows a mass protest held in Damascus earlier today: