Libyan Internet access cut, then restored

Watching events unfold in Egypt a couple of weeks ago, an Arab friend remarked that other countries would follow 'like beads from a ruptured rosary'. It's a nice variation on our toppling like dominoes metaphor and, sure enough, significant people-powered uprisings are now taking place in Bahrain and Libya with unrest reported from Jordan, Algeria and other places.

And, following Egypt's lead, it seems that Libya is clamping down on means of communication used by protesters by shutting down access to the Internet.

The country's biggest Internet service provider, General Post and Telecommunications Company, started to sever the wires on Friday, according to Internet monitoring company Renesys.

In a blog post the firm added that "the 13 globally routed Libyan network prefixes were withdrawn at 23:18 GMT, and Libya is off the Internet. One Libyan route originated by Telecom Italia directly is still BGP-reachable, but inbound traceroutes appear to die in Palermo. A minority of our peers report some surviving paths through the peering connection between Level3 and Telecom Italia, but traceroutes into those prefixes fail, suggesting that the Libyan cutoff is complete."

Thousands of Libyans are reported to have taken to the streets across the country this week, with Amnesty International saying some 46 people have been killed.

The move to cut web access appears to have begun with Facebook being blocked on Friday, according to reports from AFP.

Today, however, Renesys reports that Two-thirds of Libyan routes "came back to life" at around 6am GMT this morning with the the remainder being restored shortly thereafter. "At the moment, spot checks of Libyan domains and traceroutes into affected networks indicate that connectivity has been restored, and Libya is back on the Internet," the firm said.

Perhaps Colonel Gadaffi is feeling more a bit more secure this morning. Or maybe he just fancied a tweet.