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Egyptian Cell Phone Surveillance & the Crackdown

Thursday, February 03, 2011 - 02:12 PM

"One of the things that a cell phone network allows you to do in particular is to pinpoint the locations of individuals. And one of the things we do know about the Egyptian security state is that they depended on surveillance much more heavily than other countries might… One of the more cynical takes here is that the Egyptian government knew what they were doing. They wanted to shut down communications to take away organizing tools…This turned out not to work…It can’t be a coincidence that they turned the networks on at the exact same moment they began the crackdown that we are now witnessing... For activists that have just been casual users of cell phones, which is basically everybody but a small group of people who took precautions, the government will know their phone numbers, know how to reach them and how to look for them out on the streets...Those activists may be vulnerable.”

 —Andrew McLaughlin, former deputy Chief Technology Officer for the Obama Administration discussing why the Egyptian government shut down the internet and suddenly turned it back on, on today’s Leonard Lopate Show. You can hear the full interview here.

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