Gates: Killing web access is easy

Bill Gates

It's not that difficult to shut the internet down completely, just as the Egyptian Government managed to do recently, according to Bill Gates.

The Microsoft founder was responding to a question from CBS News presenter Katie Couric, who asked whether he was surprised President Hosni Mubarak had been able to kill the internet.

"It's not that hard to shut the internet down if you have military power where you can tell people that's what's going to happen," Gates said.

"Whenever you do something extraordinary like that you're sort of showing people you're afraid of the truth getting out, so it's a very difficult tactic, but certainly it can be shut off."

Gates said with the coming of the internet age, nations have found it tricky to keep a hold on the dissemination of data.

"Really only North Korea has a situation where they can hide information," he added.

The internet appears to be back up and running in Egypt, following the complete blackout.

Web traffic analysis firm Renesys said sites such as the Egyyptian Stock Exchange and Commercial International Bank of Egypt were accessible.

The Noor Group, one of the last main ISPs to go down in Egypt, was online as well.

BGPMon, a networking firm that monitors internet traffic routing, said it had seen signs of an internet resurrection in the country too.

"Egypt has been offline for 5 days, this is truly unprecedented in these modern days. It's been interesting to see how alternative ways of electronic communications have been used and how ad hoc internet connections have been made available," a blog post from the company read.

During the downtime, citizens were still given the chance to communicate with the outside world.

Google and Twitter joined up for a service allowing internet-deprived Egyptians to post messages on the micro-blogging site.

People could dial up international numbers, leave a voicemail and then their message would be delivered as a tweet.

Tom Brewster

Tom Brewster is currently an associate editor at Forbes and an award-winning journalist who covers cyber security, surveillance, and privacy. Starting his career at ITPro as a staff writer and working up to a senior staff writer role, Tom has been covering the tech industry for more than ten years and is considered one of the leading journalists in his specialism.

He is a proud alum of the University of Sheffield where he secured an undergraduate degree in English Literature before undertaking a certification from General Assembly in web development.