The internet has proved to be a powerful tool for rallying social and political change, but Middle East governments have also recognised their capability to disrupt communications, says Arbor Networks.
The next few weeks will likely prove a major contest between the continued evolution of the Internet as a vehicle for political change and authoritarian governments' continued assertion of control, says the company's Craig Labovitz in a blog post.
Several Middle Eastern governments have increased internet filtering since Egypt's abortive effort to block calls for the resignation of president Hosni Mubarak, a study by Arbor Networks has shown.
Data from more than 100 internet service providers indicates pronounced changes in traffic levels in Bahrain and Libya in the past two weeks.
"We observe the changes in Bahrain and Libya are temporally coincident with the onset of recent protests," said Labovitz.
Many countries in the region maintain some level of permanent Internet limits, he said, including blocks on dissident websites, social media and adult content, but recent traffic volumes represent possible traffic manipulation beyond normal filtering practices.