by Jillian C. York
December 27, 2013
As the year draws to a close,
EFF is looking back at the major trends
influencing digital rights in 2013
and discussing where we are in the fight for
free expression, innovation, fair use, and privacy.
Click here to read other blog posts in this series.
Prior to January 2011, national or regional Internet “blackouts” were mostly unheard of.
Although the Maldives, Nepal, Burma, and China all preceded Egypt with this innovation, it was the shutdown initiated by former Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak that set a new precedent and garnered global media coverage.
But in 2013, Internet blackouts became de rigeur for embattled governments:
The Syrian Internet has seen numerous outages throughout the year, some of which appear to be politically motivated and others of which may be structural.
Politically-motivated Internet outages are certainly trending.
For governments, they pose an all-too-tempting way of stifling speech and keeping order during periods of protest or unrest, but as the BART telecommunications shutdown in San Francisco demonstrated, they can also prevent urgent communications from getting through and therefore may not be worth the risks they pose, even to the most despotic of regimes.