September 18, 2011
Fear of Repression Spurs Scholars and Activists to Build Alternate Internets
By Jeffrey R. Young
Computer networks proved their organizing power during the recent uprisings in the Middle East, in which Facebook pages amplified street protests that toppled dictators. But those same networks showed their weaknesses as well, such as when the Egyptian government walled off most of its citizens from the Internet in an attempt to silence protesters.
That has led scholars and activists increasingly to consider the Internet’s wiring as a disputed political frontier.
For example, one weekend each month, a small group of computer programmers gathers at a residence here to build a homemade Internet—named Project Byzantium—that could go online if parts of the current global Internet becomes blocked by a repressive government.