Egypt reopens Internet, Facebook access

Facebook and Twitter are up and running again in Egypt, as are the URLs of several important Egyptian sites.

Internet access has been restored across much of Egypt, according to at least one source. Here, Egyptian police clash with protesters in Cairo last week.

Egypt has signed back online, after a week of widespread Web blackouts. According to the monitoring firm Renesys, a range of important Egyptian URLs are now reachable, including the sites for the US Embassy in Cairo, the Egyptian Stock Exchange, and the Commercial International Bank of Egypt. In addition, as of this afternoon, Renesys was reporting that Twitter and Facebook are once again accessible from inside Egypt.

"The rebooted Egyptian table is smaller than it was a week ago, but that's mostly because of a normal process called 'reaggregation' (the deletion of very small, specific customer routes that are partially or totally redundant with existing announcements, generally for purposes of traffic engineering)," James Cowie of Renesys wrote today. But he said the smaller routing table "was to be expected."

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"The Egyptian table had gotten pretty dense with redundancy in the week leading up to the takedown, and it's been cleaned up in the process of being brought back," Cowie added, noting that several sites remain dark. Among them: A "few" network blocks belonging to the Egyptian Universities Network. (For more on the extent of the original Internet blackout, and the restoration of services, check out these cool charts from Renesys.)

The Internet blackouts were enacted as a way of cutting communications between anti-government protesters, who have flocked to the streets by the millions in recent days. But as John Palfrey, a co-director of Harvard University's Berkman Center for Internet & Society, told the Washington Post today, it is far from clear that the limited Internet access did much to hinder the force and size of the protests.

"One of big questions is does it work for a government to shut off the network entirely? I think the answer is no," Palfrey said.

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