Egypt’s strongman Hosni Mubarak has cut off his country from the internet in an effort to thwart the protesters’ ability to organize and share information. In other popular democratic uprisings, such as the recent one in Iran, Facebook, Twitter , and other online sites have proven critical. And yet, as this article shows, those same technologies are being used by tyrants to crush dissent:
The Iranian police eagerly followed the electronic trails left by activists, which assisted them in making thousands of arrests in the crackdown that followed. The government even crowd-sourced its hunt for enemies, posting on the Web the photos of unidentified demonstrators and inviting Iranians to identify them.
“The Iranian government has become much more adept at using the Internet to go after activists,” said Faraz Sanei, who tracks Iran at Human Rights Watch. The Revolutionary Guard, the powerful political and economic force that protects the ayatollahs’ regime, has created an online surveillance center and is believed to be behind a “cyberarmy” of hackers that it can unleash against opponents, he said.