When Egypt shut down the internet Monday, resilient communicators were undaunted. Speak to Tweet, a new service by Google’s SayNow, allows people to leave a voice mail message that gets sent out as a tweet. People are also using land lines and faxes and human messengers.
Fast Company quotes Ujjwal Singh, co founder of Say Now, as saying the new service was created over the last weekend to help people in Egypt stay connected. The service requires no internet connections—though telephone communications also are vulnerable to government intervention in dangerous times, and repressive governments can also use technology to target dissidents. Cell phone and text messaging services in Egypt have been disrupted.
But burgeoning crowds continue to gather in public, and the role of social media in popular uprisings in many countries has sent shockwaves through the world’s autocratic governments. The New York Times reports China, wary of events in Egypt, is censoring Egyptian news on the Internet.
Experts say an internet shutdown would be much less feasible in a country like the U.S. where a large number of service providers have extraordinarily complex networks with built in redundancies and resilience. However, a bill called "Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset,” sponsored by Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, would allow a U.S. president stop internet connection in the U.S. in the face of a "cyberemergency” that threatened national security. The bill has many critics, and passage is not certain.
If Internet service is stopped anywhere in the world, the geeks at Wired have creative suggestions on how to continue communicating. They invite readers to add more.