Friday, January 28, 2011

Net-less Egypt may face economic doom Monday

Imagine that Y2K had happened.
From Technolog:

Egypt's government must return Internet access to the country by Monday or perhaps suffer massive economic damage, as banks and other economic institutions return to work without the ability to conduct commerce.

It's currently the weekend in Egypt, which means the government's decision to block all Internet traffic in response to protests may seem to many of the nation's 84 million inhabitants as more of an inconvenience than cataclysm.

"If you go beyond the weekend, real damage is done to capital flow and banking," Neil Hicks, international policy analyst for Human Rights First told, citing a report from the Economist Intelligence Unit. Egypt is part of the world's financial infrastructure, he said. "That's probably why most governments don't do this — it hurts the state and hurts the economy."

Not only would it impact government holdings, but it's sure to hit those investors, businesses and middle-class citizens who may support the status quo of the Mubarak administration.

It's counterproductive, Hicks explained, citing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's January 21 speech on Internet freedom. "States that uphold Internet freedom are going to do better economically," Hicks said. Cutting off the Internet is "damaging your own prospects for prosperity and growth."

"We've never had a lab in which to see what percentage of a country's economy relies on the Internet," Jim Cowie, chief technology officer of the global Internet monitoring firm Renesys, told "This is the experiment."...MORE