Recently the government of India shutdown Internet in the state of Gujarat due to riots. How does this "internet shutdown" work? How can someone who is in the country circumvent this? What can a person, who is outside of this "internet shutdown" zone, do to help restore access?

Any help will be much appreciated.

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    It varies by region but the basic idea is to turn off appropriate routers or disable the routes in a similar manner. If the government owns the internet hardware (eg: China), they shut them down themselves. Otherwise they force the companies that own the hardware to do the shutdown. – Neil Smithline Sep 21 '15 at 22:10
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    or playing with the BGP routes to cut off the traffic from those ISPs - to circumvent, you would need to hit a ISP outside of the control of the government - no one outside can restore the traffic unless they set up a separate ISP (perhaps wirelessly). – schroeder Sep 21 '15 at 22:18
  • The solution adopted by the group Telecomix during the Arab spring was to set back old-fashioned modem Internet access (you remember the pre-DSL era ;) !) outside of the Internet shutdown zone a spread the word of the phone number to call and the access credential to use in order to connect back to the Internet. – WhiteWinterWolf Sep 22 '15 at 17:14
  • IPoAC should still work. More seriously, if you are not too worried about being discovered, you can use dial up modem to packet switch over short wave or AM radio. These frequencies can bounce off the ionosphere so they have massive reach. If you are transmitting electromagnetic waves though, you may risk discovery by transmitter hunter, as well as violating frequency licensing laws, so you may want to move around a lot and only transmit short messages, but there's nothing the government can do to block your packets. – Lie Ryan Sep 23 '15 at 1:55

Usually, the government will physically disable (usually just by unplugging or powering down) critical routers within their jurisdiction. It is not possible to bypass these, as there is a physical barrier that you cannot reasonably control.

Unfortunately your only options are to either find an ISP that the government does not control (if that exists, they won't be publicizing themselves, otherwise the government will shut them down, so you will probably have to look pretty hard to find one) or to find a 3/4G carrier who has reception in your area.

  • What about Dial-Up? Would that not work? – Manthan Dave Sep 22 '15 at 11:30
  • Dial-up is a way of connecting to those routers. The internet is just a bunch of connected servers, the government disconnected the routers that connect you to those servers. – Jon Sep 22 '15 at 13:59
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    What about dial-up to an ISP in another country? – Neil Smithline Sep 22 '15 at 15:28
  • I don't believe the first paragraph in this answer to be correct, or perhaps it's misleading. Unless I'm misunderstanding the fundamental architecture of the Internet. The government doesn't have a router or a switch that they can just physically power off to halt the Internet from operating. – shift_tab Sep 22 '15 at 17:08
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    @shift_tab: while that's somewhat true, the statement was "powering down critical routers within their jurisdiction", not "powering down the routers they own." They call up ISPs who have to abide by their laws, and say "no routing packets in/out to the Internet." The Internet is a network of networks, and they "shut down" the internet for everyone inside by disconnecting their network from it. – CR Drost Sep 22 '15 at 17:13

The government doesn't have their own routers and switches that they can just "power off" to halt the Internet. Sure, they have their own infrastructure, but that's not going to kill the Internet.

The Internet in the US is huge and much bigger than many other countries. This includes the amount of data as well as the number of companies (ISPs) involved.

The government could phone up all of these ISPs and potentially demand them to null route traffic or otherwise somehow cease traffic for their customers. But this would be very difficult if not impossible to "shut down" the Internet. US law probably wouldn't allow for such an authoritarian shutdown. The Internet doesn't have a "kill switch".

Egypt's government very likely and very probably called up individual ISPs and ordered them to halt traffic.

I don't think that will happen in the US and I don't think the Internet could be "shut down" by anyone in Washington.

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