Burma and the Internet

Let’s start with this from the NYT:

Myanmar has just two Internet service providers, and shutting them down was not complicated, said David Mathieson, an expert on Myanmar with Human Rights Watch. Along with the Internet, the junta cut off most telephone access to the outside world. Soldiers on the streets confiscated cameras and video-recording cellphones.

Ouch. These last two weeks, following the news in Burma/Myanmar have shown how powerful the internet can be as a tool for communication and the freedoms of speech that we value. Reading the articles, it’s amazing that mobile phones, blogs, text messaging, and all these modern technologies are being used to help the outside world understand the insanity. But when it’s so easy to cut off, it’s saddening that the voices of the people who live in Burma can be so easily silenced. It also speaks to the fact that we have grown to expect things like connectivity, redundancy, and resilience in our communication systems. When they’re this fragile, we feel exposed and alone. For those in China after the Taiwan earthquake in 2006, you have a good idea how it feels to go from connected to cut off.

Images like these are what we won’t be seeing any more (also from the NYT article):