Google Inc launched a special service to allow people in Egypt to send Twitter messages by dialing a phone number and leaving a voice mail, as Internet access remains cut off in the country amid anti-government protests.
“Like many people, we’ve been glued to the news unfolding in Egypt and thinking of what we could do to help people on the ground,” read a post on Google’s official corporate blog on Monday.
The service, which Google said was developed with engineers from Twitter, allows people to dial a telephone number and leave a voice mail. The voice mail is automatically translated into an audio file message that is sent to Twitter using the identifying tag #egypt, Google said.
Internet social networking services such as Twitter and Facebook have been important tools of communications for protesters in Egypt. Internet services have been suspended around the country and phone text messaging has been disabled.
A source familiar with the matter said Google, whose corporate motto is “Don’t Be Evil,” was not taking sides in the crisis in Egypt, but was simply supporting access to information as it has done with other services, such as video Web site YouTube.
YouTube has been streaming live coverage of al-Jazeera’s broadcasts of the events in Egypt.
Dozens of the so-called speak-to-tweet messages were featured on Twitter on Monday. The messages ranged from a few seconds to several minutes, and featured people identifying themselves as Egyptians and describing the situations in various parts of the country.
“The government is spreading rumors of fear, and of burglary and of violence,” said one of the messages from an English speaker. “The only incidence of theft and burglary are done by the police themselves.”
Google’s Twitter service became available as the last of Egypt’s main Internet service providers, the Noor Group, went dark.
The Noor Group had remained online even after Egypt’s four main Internet providers abruptly stopped shuttling Internet traffic into and out of the country on Friday morning.
At about 11pm on Monday, the Noor Group became unreachable, said James Cowie, chief technology officer of Renesys, a security firm based in Manchester, New Hampshire. Renesys monitors massive directories of “routes,” or set paths that define how Web traffic flows. The Noor Group’s routes have disappeared, he said.
FOX HUNT: To suppress dissent, Chinese living abroad that Xi Jinping sees as threats are told to either return to China or commit suicide, Christopher Wray said Chinese agents have been pursuing hundreds of Chinese nationals living in the US in an effort to force their return, as part of a global campaign against the country’s diaspora, known as Operation Fox Hunt, FBI Director Christopher Wray said on Tuesday. In a speech about the security threat posed by China, during which he said Beijing’s counterintelligence work was the “greatest long-term threat to our nation’s information and intellectual property, and to our economic vitality,” Wray gave the example of one Fox Hunt target who was given a choice of going back to China or killing themselves. Fox Hunt was launched
INTERNET CURBS: People are rushing to erase their digital footprints after police given powers over online activity, although it might take years for the full effect to be felt At midnight on Tuesday, the Great Firewall of China, the vast apparatus that limits the country’s Internet, appeared to descend on Hong Kong. Unveiling expanded police powers as part of contentious new national security legislation, the Hong Kong government enabled police to censor online speech, and force Internet service providers to hand over user information and shut down platforms. Many residents, already anxious since the legislation took effect last week, rushed to erase their digital footprint of any signs of dissent or support for the past year of protests. Hong Kong Legislator Charles Mok (莫乃光), a pro-democracy member of the Legislative
‘FIGHT FOR FREEDOM’: Hong Kongers will never bow to Beijing, the advocate said, while the US’ envoy to the territory called China’s new security law a ‘tragedy’ The world must stand in solidarity with Hong Kongers after Beijing imposed sweeping national security legislation on the semi-autonomous territory, advocate Joshua Wong (黃之鋒) said yesterday, vowing to continue campaigning for democracy. Wong, one of the territory’s most prominent young advocates and a figure loathed by Beijing, was speaking outside a court where he and fellow advocates are being prosecuted for involvement in last year’s pro-democracy protests. China last week enacted sweeping security legislation for the restless territory, banning acts of subversion, secession, terrorism and collusion with foreign forces. The legislation has sent a wave of fear through the territory, and criminalized dissenting
‘SUICIDE’: Media reports said Park Won-soon went missing on Thursday after a staff member filed a sexual harassment claim against him this week Seoul mayor Park Won-soon, viewed as a potential candidate for the 2022 presidential election, was found dead of an apparent suicide hours after he was reported missing, police said, adding that he was the subject of an undisclosed investigation. In a note he is thought to have left behind on his desk, Park offered his apologies. “I thank everyone who was with me in my life. I apologize to my family for only making them suffer from pain,” according to the note that was released by his office yesterday. Park, in his letter, asked to be cremated and have his remains spread