News / Middle East

Technology Changes Government Response to Uprising

The Google Transparency Report shows the moment when the government in Cairo cut off access to the Internet for Egypt.  Click the graphic to see the interactive version on Google.
The Google Transparency Report shows the moment when the government in Cairo cut off access to the Internet for Egypt. Click the graphic to see the interactive version on Google.

Technology is proving to be a challenge for autocratic governments facing public uprisings. From the outset of the protests, Egypt's rulers responded with harsh tactics to shut down digital communication. Governments around the world are learning how technology can hurt them or help them.

Live pictures of the protests in Cairo were broadcast via the Arab television network, al Jazeera - until the Egyptian government jammed its satellite.

Many tweets signaled where protestors were gathering - until the Egyptian government blocked the Internet.

New media is playing an increasingly vital role in anti-government rebellions.

At al Jazeera English in Washington, reporters supplement live coverage from the network's headquarters in Qatar.  

Nick Toksvig, the bureau's executive producer, said, "The authorities have tried to make things difficult for us, which I interpret as a sign we are doing our job."

For now, al Jazeera is managing to still send out live pictures from Cairo, but only from portable satellite technology that shows this one view.

News anchors introduce their Egyptian correspondents, without mentioning their names or exact locations.

That's because their Cairo reporters have lost their credentials and some have been jailed. Al Jazeera's license to operate from Cairo has been revoked and the bureau is closed. These all are actions taken last weekend by the Egyptian government.

 

 

 

 

 

"Wherever you are in the world, if you want to try and control information, any outlet that expresses a view that is perhaps not your chosen view, might be a concern, especially if you are in a position of power or government," said Toksvig.

George Washington University professor Steven Livingston is monitoring twitter feeds from Egypt. The tweets are posted by individuals with handheld technology. Last week, the smart mobs - as they are called - tweeted to coordinate groups and also to warn of approaching police. This week, cell service is spotty. Google has started Speak-2-Tweet. Egyptians can phone and leave a voice message that is placed onto twitter feeds.

A recent message transmitted this way said, "Peace be with you. I'm Ehab from Cairo. I want to say one message. We are 85 million pharoahs. We fight this man, we want him to leave Egypt."

Livingston said blocking digital technology can only last so long. "It becomes a hindrance after a while for Egypt to function as a society integrated into the rest of the global economy at all, if business people can't make cellphone calls."

Livingston said an Internet feature called "event mapping" helps protesters. Red spots on the map correspond to what's happening at that location. The crowd directs its movement with the information posted.

Also, If there is a need at that location, average citizens find others who can meet the need. The grassroots coordination is done without government assistance and lacks any leader.

"It's a self-organized movement of people who can take advantage of a new kind of way of sharing information that leaves authoritarian regimes in a very difficult situation," said Livingston.

Professor Livingston said experts differ on the future of technology and its impact on oppressive governments. Some believe technology like this will liberate citizens. Others think it will empower rulers to identify and crush opposition.

NEW: Follow our Middle East stories on Twitter
and discuss them on our Facebook page.

Carolyn Presutti

Carolyn Presutti is an Emmy and Silver World Medal award winning television correspondent who works out of VOA’s Washington headquarters.   She has also won numerous Associated Press awards and a Clarion for her coverage of The Syrian Medical Crisis, Haiti, The Boston Marathon Bombing, Presidential Politics, The Southern Economy, and The 9/11 Bombing Anniversary.  In 2013, Carolyn aired exclusive stories on the Asiana plane crash and was named VOA’s chief reporter with Google Glass.

You can follow Carolyn on Twitter at CarolynVOA, on Google Plus and Facebook.

You May Like

EU Court Fines Poland for Hosting CIA 'Black Sites'

Ruling is first time a court has acknowledged suspects were held and tortured at the sites, under US program launched following the 9/11 terrorist attacks More

Migrant Issues Close to Home Spur Groups to Take Action

Groups placing water, food in the desert, or aiding detainees after release, have one common goal: no more deaths of migrants crossing illegally into the US More

Video At AIDS Conference, Prevention Pill Stirs Excitement

Truveda shows promise, spurring debate over access and other approaches More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debatei
X
Shelley Schlender
July 24, 2014 6:43 PM
In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Treatment for Childhood Epilepsy Heats up Medical Marijuana Debate

In the United States, marijuana is classed as an illegal drug by the federal government. But nearly half the states have legalized it, to some degree. Proponents say some strains of marijuana might have exceptional health benefits, for treating pain or inflammation in chronic conditions such as cancer, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. Shelley Schlender reports on a strain of medical marijuana developed in Colorado that is reputed to reduce seizures in childhood epilepsy
Video

Video Airbus Adds Metal 3D Printed Parts to New Jets

By the end of this year, European aircraft manufacturing consortium Airbus plans to deliver the first of its new, extra-wide-body passenger jets, the A350-XWB. Among other technological innovations, the new plane will also incorporate metal parts made in a 3-D printer. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video Death Toll From Israel-Gaza Conflict Surpasses 700

Gaza officials say a shelling hit a compound housing a United Nations-run school in the Gaza Strip, killing more than a dozen people, during an Israeli offensive in the area. Heavy fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas militants continued on Thursday, pushing up the death toll. So far, more than 730 Palestinians and 35 Israelis have been killed in the conflict. VOA's Scott Bobb has the latest from Jerusalem.
Video

Video AIDS Conference Welcomes Exciting Developments in HIV Treatment, Prevention

Significant strides have been made in recent years toward the treatment and prevention of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This year, at the International AIDS Conference, the AIDS community welcomed progress on a new pill that may prevent transmission of the deadly virus. VOA’s Anita Powell reports from Melbourne, Australia.
Video

Video Israel Targets Gaza Supply Tunnels

The Israeli military has launched a ground operation in Gaza to destroy the myriad tunnels that may have been used to smuggle weapons to Hamas. VOA's Zlatica Hoke reports that could mean more hardship for the people of Gaza, who obtain some of their essential supplies through these underground passages
Video

Video Researchers Target Low-Cost Avatar Technology

Scientists at the University of Southern California Institute for Creative Technologies say 3-dimensional representations could revolutionize social media. Elizabeth Lee has more from Los Angeles.
Video

Video IAEA: Iran Turns its Enriched Uranium Into Less Harmful Form

Iran has converted its stockpiles of enriched uranium into a less dangerous form that is more difficult to use for nuclear weapons, according to the United Nations’ Atomic Energy Agency. The move complies with an interim deal reached with Western powers on Iran's nuclear program last year, in exchange for easing of sanctions. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video In Cambodia, HIV Diagnosis Brings Deadly Shame

Although HIV/AIDS is now a treatable condition, a positive diagnosis is still a life altering experience. In Cambodia, people living with HIV are often disowned by friends, family and the community. This humiliation can be unbearable. We bring you one Cambodian woman’s struggle to overcome a life tragedy and her own HIV positive diagnosis.

AppleAndroid