Always the most powerful and enduring of Man’s weapons.
How they are spread has always been an obsession with repressive dictatorships, who have traditionally gone great lengths to control or eliminate those means.
Clearly, new media has emerged which accelerates the spread and increases the exposure to those ideas. Just after midnight, Egypt provided echoes of the violent and brutally suppressed Teheran protests following the “elections” of 2009. This from the Associated Press:
Internet and cell phone services, at least in Cairo, appeared to be largely cut off since overnight in the most extreme measure so far to try to hamper protesters form organizing. However, that did not prevent tens of thousands from flooding the streets.
And just what ideas are so powerful, so feared by Egypt’s government? Well, they are not new.
“It’s time for this government to change,” said Amal Ahmed, a 22-year-old protester. “I want a better future for me and my family when I get married.”
Interesting times, these.
Perhaps, also, this should give us pause before handing our own government the authority to have a “kill switch” for the Internet and electronic communications. Yes, the idea is being conceived as a protection of US critical infrastructure in the event of a national emergency. Yet once authorized, such a capability is more or less permanently resident, for whatever purpose, in the hands of the government.
History has shown us that granting overreaching emergency powers to a government is an emergency unto itself. Until the result is a fatal cure for whatever the disease might be. That’s not a situation we should ever be willing to risk.