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The Internet Has A 'Shut Off Button': The NSA Caused Web Blackout in Syria, Not the Syrian Government — Says NSA Whistleblower



By Spencer Ackerman
The surveillance whistleblower Edward Snowden has alleged that a 2012 incident that took Syria’s internet offline was caused by a National Security Agency blunder.

In an interview with Wired magazine, Snowden said the elite NSA hacking unit, called Tailored Access Operations, accidentally cut off Syria’s internet while attempting to infiltrate it.

The unit allegedly attempted to install an exploit in the hardware of Syria’s main internet service provider that would have provided NSA with mass access to internet usage, communications and patterns in Syria, where a civil war was developing into an Islamist insurgency, destabilising the Middle East.

Instead of gaining mass visibility into the internet habits of Syrians, Snowden alleged, a glitch took Syria offline.

On 29 November 2012, the analysis firm Renesys reported that 92% of the routed networks providing internet connectivity for Syria, 77 of them, had gone dark.

At the time, the outage was widely reported, including by the Guardian, to have been at the instigation of the Syrian government, in order to destabilise opposition groups.

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