Bitcoinomics, Chapter 17: The Internet Is Down, Bitcoin Over? No.

Bitcoinomics, Chapter 17: The Internet Is Down, Bitcoin Over? No.

[heading]Bitcoinomics, Chapter 17: The Internet Is Down, Bitcoin Experiment Over? Not With These Solutions[/heading]

“Bitcoin is technology.”  – Justin O’Connell, CEO GoldSilverBitcoin

Over one year ago, the Egyptian government cut off approximately 88% of the country’s internet access. Here is what happened: The government owned the biggest Internet provider in the nation, and only had to contact a few other companies to make this happen.

The government ordered the shutdown of nearly all Internet access within Egypt. 93% of Egypt’s networks Telecom Egypt, Raya, Link Egypt, Etisalat Misr and Internet Egypt all shut down their internet services within three minutes apart. Over the course of twenty minutes, all of the lagest service providers in Egypt shutdown their internet. Generally what happens in a nation looking to control Internet information, like in Tunisia, Iran and China, is particular web sites get blocked or small networks that host content they wish to censor.  Iran merely slowed down its Internet to hurt efforts of protestors there. One of the most plausible scenarios as to how the Internet was shut off is that a government official called up all their license-holders (that is, the regulated ISPs, telecommunications companies, mobile service providers) and tells them to turn it off. The managers of those companies go to engineers who make one or two lines of configuration change and hit “enter” on the keyboard. It’s done.



What About In the US? As Jim Cowie told Scientific American during the shutdown:

I’ll speculate. There is no standing legal authority to be exercised and no kill switch. Probably, the government would make a request, and an ISP would say, “That’s interesting,” and send it to legal. Legal would send it upstairs, there would be consultation, there would be calls back and forth, there would be injunctions levied, there would be lawsuits, and the ISP wouldn’t get shut down. This process would take a long time.

If the laws were changed so that there were a clear-cut legal authority and a plan to control the Internet, then anything is possible. But I certainly don’t think that the industry in most countries on Earth would stand to have that kind of power dangled over their heads. It would do incredible violence to the companies economically, and it would do even greater economic violence to the country.

Take Action

Bring your digital contacts into the analog

By printing out your contact list, your connections and social network will not be lost in the ether. Many mail services such as Gmail enable you to export your online contact list in formats that work with paper, like CSV or Vcard.  If you run a business, chances are your CRM system has the same capacity. Make sure you stay in touch with those who need your products and pay your bills.


CB Radio: “Citizens Band” radios are two-way radios enabling communication over short distances on 40 channels. They cost between $20-$50 at Radio Shack, and no license is required.

Ham radio: An operators’ license from the FCC is required to converse over what are also known as “amateur radios.” Unfortunately, this system can be prohibited by the government.

GMRS:  This licensed land-mobile FM UHF radio service in the US is available for short-distance two-way communication. The licensed adult, as well as his or her immediate family members, can use this Radio Service. More expensive and higher quality than standard walkie talkies, these can typically be found in discount electronic stores.

Family Radio Service:  The FRS is an updated walkie talkie system available in the US since 1996. Using channelized frequencies in the ultra high frequency band, it will not experience the interference suffered on citizens’ band at 27 MHz or the 49 MHz of cordless phones, toys and baby monitors.


Microbroadcasting: The process of broadcasting messages to smaller audiences, this medium uses low-power transmitters to broadcast a radio signal over a neighborhood or small town. Similar to pirate radio, microbroadcasters generally operate without a license from the local regulation body, but sacrifice range in favor of using legal power limits.

Packet Radio  This shortwave packet-radio modem is very slow, but does allow you to use e-mail.  Like ham radio, this system requires licensure since it operates on ham radio frequencies.

Enable Twitter via SMS: How to redirect tweets to your phone.

Call to Tweet: Thanks to engineers from Twiter, Google and SayNow, you can today tweet by leaving a voicemail on one of these international phone numbers (+16504194196 or +39066207294 or +97316199855 and it will be tweeted. No Internet connection is needed on the sending parties behalf. People can listen to the messages by dialing the same phone numbers or going to the Twitter account, speak2tweet.


You can call 512-646-5000 to listen to Alex Jones and daily sans Internet.

Mobile Fax

Phone conversations are not the most efficient way to send and receive lengthy and complicated instructions. Delivering the information by document is most quickly executed – when e-mail is not available – via fax.  You do not necessarily need to use the old bulky fax of recent collective memory, for today many smart phones come with a built-in scan to fax options. Also, if your computer has a dial-up fax application, you can use that as well.

Back online

The Internet is little more than many, many computers connected together.  The government might be able to cut off many connections, but it is highly unlikely they would be able to cut all of them. Privately-owned networks and independent ISPs are a strength against Internet tyranny.

Privately-run ISPs

Whenever you try to logon to the Internet in densely populated area, there are usually many connections available, blocked only by passwords.  If you are without Internet, skim these networks for that ever elusive unsecured network. If you are with Internet when many are not, disable your password protection, thus making your Internet connection available to others, but be sure to encrypt! When enough people disable their passwords, an entirely private WiFi network, outside government control, can be used, and users can run applications like Bonjour or iChat on Mac to communicate with others on this open network.


As BBC reported during the Egyptian protests, “Dial-up modems are one of the most popular routes for Egyptians to get back online. Long lists of international numbers that connect to dial-up modems are circulating in Egypt thanks to net activists We Re-Build, Telecomix and others.” Dial-up is antiquated and so slow. There are many lightweight mobile versions of websites that you can load in your browser over dial-up; for instance,,,


Generally, wireless routers, PCs, laptops, and even ultramobile devices such as cellphones have the capacity to become part of an “ad hoc” network, whereby all network devices transmit the data of the network. These networks can become very big and are not difficult to setup. The tech-savvy can use such a network to host temporary websites and chat rooms. Apple computers have an easy to use functionality built in, which includes the pre-installed iChat which will automatically run an ad hoc “Rendevous” chat room among anybody on the network. This means no use for Skype.

Windows computers have third-party ad hoc chat applications to choose from, like Trillian. Linux operating systems have plenty of third-party apps available, and most distros have ad hoc network-creation support built in.


Build Large Bridged Wireless Network 

With wireless access point devices such as Linksys WRT54G, wireless bridged networks can effectively create a Local Area Network (LAN) or a private Internet for all users within range. Most access points will cover a 100 meter area and if your wireless device is built to support the 802.11n wireless standard, you enjoy nearly a 500 meter coverage area for each access point. Check out the dd-wrt wiki, and learn how to



configure Linksys WRT54G as a wireless client using this Anandtech thread.

Nintendo DS

Nintento DS supports Wi-Fi and its own wireless protocols. Pictochat can be used with nearby DS users without DS games. The range is not too helpful. Fourth generation Pokemon games, along with other games, support mail services through the Internet. Whilst the original DS and DS Lite do support the Opera web browser, seeking the game card and memory pack will be difficult. Opera is downloadable through the DSi.


An INTRANET could be set up in one of two ways before the Internet. Your computer dialed up other computers and sent them contents or local people dialed into your computer. A nationwide system is achievable this way with a central location sending to many cities then each city sending out the info locally.


Become untraceable

Set up an untraceable account.  With a mail drop and assumed name and Bitcoin or a prepaid credit card you can get a lot done.

Get satellite access

You can have very, very slow internet if you have something similiar to an Iridium phone, which would allow you to do dial up at 2400 baud, which at least gives you e-mail. This will also work when your government has shut down GSM and telephone access, and will work pretty much anywhere on the planet. If you’re in the right place, get yourself KA-SAT access which is satellite broadband and will not be routed through any internet exchange that certain local governments may monitor or block (unless that government is part of EU or er … Uncle Sam.


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