There have been several bills before the US Congress to allow this to be done in the US.
This is the first time a country has shut down their entire public access Internet communications system, although other repressive governments such as Iran and China have sought to limit Internet access. There are 5 major Internet carriers in Egypt, which has about 58 million cell phones riding the 4 Cell Carriers – the primary connectivity methodology in third world countries. Apparently, Noor – the carrier on which most government traffic, and the Egyptian Stock Exchange is carried is still active.
As civil unrest continues to spread and intensify across Egypt, authorities within the country have taken a drastic and apparently unprecedented step: they’ve shut down the entire Internet.
The blackout began at about 12:30 a.m. local time, when four of the Egypt’s major service providers abruptly shut down. Calling the nationwide outage “an action unprecedented in Internet history,” the U.S.-based Internet analysis firm Renesys found that the simultaneous shutdown rendered virtually every Egyptian site inaccessible, from anywhere in the world. The country’s four major ISPs (Link Egypt, Vodafone/Raya, Telecom Egypt, and Etisalat Misr) have all suspended network services, with Noor Group standing as the lone exception. (The country’s stock exchange, perhaps not coincidentally, is still active at a Noor address.) According to statistics from BGPmon, a full 88-percent of the “Egyptian Internet” has been completely wiped out.
Looks like the Egyptian Government is getting ready to get “down and dirty”, and wants to cut the ability of the outside world to know about it. Today’s protests may well be running into something a bit more lethal than tear gas, and protest leaders could be looking at being “disappeared”.
The shutdown also is heavily impacting mobile phones, knocking out text messaging, email, and the ability to send images. IP based carriers would be down entirely, and (especially outbound) communication with the outside world would be largely shut down, although inbound calls might still be possible.