Information Warfare: Pulling The Plug

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October 8, 2007: When the Myanmar (Burma) government was recently faced with a clergy (Buddhist monks) led uprising against it, hackers, as well as troops, were deployed to put the insurrection down. Myanmar has been ruled by a ruthless military dictatorship since the 1960s. In 1988, there were widespread demonstrations, which the military put down with force, killing over 3,000 people. In the past, the government has tightly controlled the media, and kept foreign reporters out. This time around, the generals noted that Internet access inside Myanmar was allowing anyone to be a reporter, and to transmit pictures and videos of the government attacks on its own people. So the government just pulled the plug on the Internet in Myanmar for most of the time since September 28th. Service has been restored for short periods, apparently to allow the government to conduct business.

In addition to cutting off web access, the government has also shut down cell phone service for people known, or suspected, to be reporting events to media outside the country. The government makes heavy use of phone taps, and has apparently also used skilled hackers to attack anti-government web sites outside Myanmar. All this is but another example of how adaptable a dictatorship can be when its power is threatened.

 


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