[p2p-hackers] Some Clarifications regarding Egypt

Sameh El-Ansary sansary at nileuniversity.edu.eg
Sun Feb 6 09:18:47 PST 2011

Dear P2P-Hackers,

I am an Egyptian P2P researcher and an old member of your list. 
I was really glad to find those two threads about Egypt in the P2P hackers list.

Technology (basically Facebook and Twitter) was a foundational part of this revolution.
History is being written as we speak,  and any simple idea, especially technology-related can
make a huge difference. Your brainstorming on this list is extremely valuable!!

i have skimmed though the threads, and excuse me if some of the thoughts are
redundant or not enough organized. (Have to rush back to the demonstrations!!) 

Let me clarify that at different stages, we had different challenges. 
  Phase 1: Only Twitter was blocked.
	Solution: People started using public proxies. 
	Even VPNs, were a bit too much of an advanced idea for some people.
       They started disseminating the info through Facebook.

  Phase 2: No Internet 
	At this stage, I can not confirm whether routing inside Egypt was still working
       on or not. All ISPs and Mobile operators were ordered to shut it down.
       and I am interested to know (as some of you are), how did they do it.
	But ordering physical powering off of all switches is not unimaginable here.
	Let me also draw your attention to the fact that symmetric satellite connections 
	are basically illegal to start with, unless you are an embassy or some hotshot
       petroleum company or something. 

  Phase 3: No SMS	
	Just one more censorship level

  Phase 4: No Internet & no mobile services.
	At this point there was nothing working but land-lines. Again, I can not 
       confirm whether routing was working or not. However, if you are using a 3G 
       connection, there was no even GSM signal to start with !! 

Let me aslo clarify that at each time different challenges were in place.

a- Organizing protests: that was the initial thing but quickly more challenges came

b- Sending out the message: the other challenge was to send to the whole world
the real picture of what is going on, especially that the Egyptian media was portraying
a totally different picture of what is actually going on. That was extremely important
on Friday the 28th, when the police was firing real bullets (claiming that to be rubber ones.)
and more importantly when they hired thugs and secret police to attack unarmed pro-democracy
protesters on the 2nd of Feb. They
collected video testimonies of captured thugs and captured disguised police officers including
their ids and their confessions of them being paid to attack.

c- On-site communication: during the demonstrations, communicating with the masses (and by masses
I mean more than one million people) is a challenge. Protesters had a tough time gathering enough loudspeakers
and with the amount of people and large physical space, they could barely communicate with a small portion 
of the rest of the crowd. May be some simple ad-hoc networking blue-tooth based or something could
have helped here.  

a- Voice to Tweet 
    This thing really worked, before the government screwed it as well.

b- International Dial-up:
    In phase 4, luckily this was still possible and some people started doing it individually
    but  there is not up to now enough known phone numbers around. 

Finally, Internet is back now, but I would not be surprised if it went off again.

I hope this gives a closer picture to what has been going on in Egypt. 
I hope I can still communicate and brainstorm with you on the subject, 
however, I am rarely online now.

Finally, we have no shortage of techies here. We can set up any complex system.
Everybody, is volunteering to do something 
and self-organizing communities are being formed in a speed beyond belief.
Needless to say, the things have to be simple enough to be used by non-techie masses.

Sameh El-Ansary, PhD
Assistant Professor, Nile University, Egypt
Co-founder, Peerialism Inc. Stockholm, Sweden

p2p-hackers mailing list
p2p-hackers at lists.zooko.com

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