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On February 15th, protests erupted in the Libyan city of Benghazi and news organizations were faced with covering a country where the information blackout was near total, reports On The Media.


With virtually no foreign reporters on the ground until week’s end, the world relied on the testimony of Libyan eyewitnesses reporting by cellphone, by Twitter and by all available means, often at grave personal risk.

One member of that diaspora is OTM producer Sarah Abdurrahman. She spent the week, not as a disinterested journalist, but rather, as a part of the movement. She describes how she, along with friends and family, have been trying to bring about change in Libya from laptops in Washington DC.

Her role was to telephone people inside of Libya, to record the conversations and to post all of those findings on a Twitter feed called Feb17voices, named after the date of the “Day of Rage” in Libya.

Social Media Is Making Life Hard for Dictators.

The entertainment industry is feeling the heat. Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Usher and 50 Cent are facing industry calls to give back the money they made performing at lavish parties thrown by family members of Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi.

Technology is a double edged sword. The same technology that prevents viruses and attacks, allows mass monitoring of internet traffic.

Consider a submarine cable landing site, using Glimmerglass solutions, for example, which provide rapid and remote switching and monitoring in real time. With Photonic Multicasting, one input can be optically split into multiple perfect copies. Boeing’s Narus box can perform mass surveillance with deep packet inspection.

FierceTelecom interviewed GlimmerGlass CEO Robert Lundy:

FierceTelecom: How will lawful intercept grow or change in 2011?

Lundy: I think the change that we would see is that there will be a recognition of the activity in the Middle East and North Africa. What will be recognized and very interesting in the next year will be what’s going on in Southeast Asia and in the Middle East/North Africa.

FierceTelecom: For the Middle East, particularly as you said, not just intelligence agencies but what telecoms are doing…

Lundy: In many cases, those parts of the world, telecommunications carriers will be doing the procurement and the deployment. They’re really a trend that will occur within the major telecommunications suppliers. I’m not sure they’re going to really want to talk about it.

FierceTelecom: I suppose they won’t want to talk about it until it’s up and deployed.

Lundy: Even then they don’t want to talk about it. (Laughs)

The new Europe India Gateway (EIG), is a $700 million high-capacity fiber-optic cable from Indian telecom service provider Bharti Airtel, which is the first, direct, high-bandwidth optical fiber system from the UK to India. It lands in Tripoli. The I-ME-WE (India-Middle East-Western Europe) submarine cable is a 12,091 km fiber plant owned by a consortium of nine telecom carriers from eight countries including Orange, Etisalat and Telecom Egypt.

Renesys monitors internet connectivity in the middle East and Libya.

Mobile satellite services operator Thuraya on Feb. 25 said it has “conclusive evidence” that Libya, one of its shareholders, is the source of “unlawful and intentional jamming” in Libya over the past week.

Thuraya, a UAE-based satphone company, has dealt with Libya-based jamming in the past. Its technical teams said that, as of Feb. 25, “voice services were restored over much of the country.”

Inmarsat’s laptop-size terminals called BGAN is used in Libya, and are the mainstay of broadcast networks, since they can unlink several hundred kbps. Inmarsat’s handset, the IsatPhone Pro offers satellite telephony at 2.4kbps, voicemail, text and email messaging as well as GPS location data. Iridium satphones connect at 9Kbps and can work for SMS texting as well as voice.

Text can also be sent using Globalstar and Orbcomm satellites. Globalstar’s R290 handset is a dual mode phone with a built-in modem for data and fax communication at 9.6 kbps in GSM mode and 7.2 kbps in satellite mode, while Magellan’s now discontinued portable GSC 100 lets you txt anywhere on earth using Orbcomm’s messaging satellites.

TÉLÉCOMS SANS FRONTIÈRES has been deployed on the border between Tunisia and Libya since February 24th, at the Ras Jedir border post and in the transit camp of Choucha. On Saturday, over ten thousand people crossed that main border point.

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