In what Syrian activists are calling the largest demonstrations yet against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad's regime, protesters took to the streets across the country today in the name of the children--including 13-year-old Hamza al-Khateeb--who have been killed during the uprising. In the central city of Hama alone, according to AFP, security forces fired on a crowd of more than 50,000 people, killing 34. And it all happened, it seems, without Internet.
Starting at 6:35 am in Syria, around two-thirds of all Syrian networks became unreachable from the global Internet, according to Renesys, a U.S. company that monitors Internet connectivity (the Renesys graph above shows how the routes to 40 networks were withdrawn over the course of half an hour this morning). The company explains that Syria's Internet generally depends on one provider--SyriaTel, owned by Assade confidante Rami Makhlouf--and that SyriaTel's 3G mobile data networks, which activists can use to organize protests and upload videos and photos of the unrest, are down while some government sites are still up. Syrians tell AFP that Internet lines were cut in the capital, Damascus, and the coastal city of Latakia ("there is now one report of internet working in an internet cafe in Abu Romani, Damascus 20 minutes ago," the pseudonymous Syrian activist Malath Aumran, who is based in Beirut, wrote on Twitter). Those watching the blackout are also pointing to this Google Transparency Report, which tracks traffic to Google services around the world. Look at this Friday, June 3, compared with last Friday, May 27. Google, like Renesys, suggests that Internet access in Syria nosedived early in the morning.