What does Egypt's Internet ban say about the future of global politics?

An Egyptian reporter for Islam Online holds a sign as a colleague raises a keyboard outside the Qatari embassy in Cairo on May 5, 2010 during a protest against alleged efforts by the website's management in Qatar to assume editorial control.

That's not all that surprising. They've been filtering the Internet for a long time. What Egypt did -- yanking the Internet almost entirely offline -- that's new.

On today's show, we look at the precedent set by Egypt's decision to block most Internet and cell phone access in that country. Jonathan Zittrain joins us. He's co-founder and co-director of Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet and Society and a frequent guest on our show. Jonathan says that while Iran, China, Saudi Arabia, and other countries have means to filter the Internet, Egypt's online system has always been pretty open so when they wanted to block it, they had to go all the way.

Andrew McLaughlin also joins us. He's a former director of global public policy at Google and former deputy chief technology officer for the Obama administration. He says while it was incredibly difficult to get online within Egypt's borders, neighboring countries had no issues at all, even though in many cases, their traffic goes through Egyptian territory.

Andrew tells us that Egypt has worked hard to position itself as a trustworthy hub for underwater cable that goes through the Red Sea, connecting to nearby countries. That service has not been disrupted.

As for what this means for other countries facing similar protests, we just don't know yet since Egypt's actions were unprecedented. But as protests begin to gather in other countries (and keep in mind that Egypt's protests were fueled by the overthrow in Tunisia), it's likely more governments will need to decide what to do about the Internet.

Also on this show, we talk to "Weird Al" Yankovic about the smartphone app that saves his life on tour on a regular basis.

About the author

John Moe is the host of Marketplace Tech Report, where he provides an insightful overview of the latest tech news.

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