Internet services in Libya have reportedly been stopped and those in Bahrain severely restricted as the countries' respective governments clamp down on civil unrest by removing the means for protestors to communicate and organise action.
Network security firm Arbor Networks reportedly noted that Libya "abruptly disconnected" from the internet at around midnight on 18 February as protests against leader Moamer Kadhafi continued into their fifth day.
AFP reported that the Libyan authorities have killed more than 80 anti-regime protesters as part of the crackdown.
Meanwhile, in Bahrain, Arbor Networks noted a decline in traffic of about 20 per cent from 14 February, around the same time that protests flared up demanding government reforms.
The actions again highlight the increasing role of the internet in nurturing and facilitating democratic protests, and the determination of the authorities in question to remain in power.
In what was an unprecedented step, the Egyptian government cut all internet services including fixed line and mobile services in the country at the end of January after protestors demanded the resignation of leader Hosni Mubarak.
ISPs were allowed to go back online a few days later, but the internet blockade did not succeed in quelling the protests and Mubarak was eventually forced to resign.
In many cases the authorities in these states have to balance a desire to crack down on protestors by blocking internet services, with the fact that disrupted communications come at a significant economic cost to the country.
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