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Internet Blackout in the U.s. a Near Impossibility

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A study by Renesys found that an Internet blackout in the U.S. is all but impossible, while other countries face varying degrees of risk of such outages.

Credit: Digital Trends

An Internet blackout in the United States is all but impossible due to its variety of Internet service providers and access channels, says Renesys, which rated countries based on their risk of Internet disconnection.

The countries most vulnerable to blackout include Syria, Libya, Ethiopia, and Myanmar (Burma), and the least vulnerable include the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands, according to Renesys.

A blackout in the United States would require an improbable scenario in which many providers were coerced or damaged simultaneously. By comparison, Syria, which experienced an Internet blackout in November, has only one or two Internet providers. Egypt has multiple providers, but in 2011 President Hosni Mubarak was able to take down the Internet over a period of days. Afghanistan has a perhaps surprisingly low risk of blackout due to the decentralization of its government and Internet providers, as well as their geographical diversity, with large distances to cover.

The fact that private industry controls networks in the United States contributes to the Internet's stability, says Gartner analyst John Pescatore. In other countries, especially in the Mideast and Europe, the government permits few providers, making blackouts more feasible, Pescatore notes.

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