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Tech Companies Bring Voice to Egypt Through Satellite Devices and Speak To Tweet

LOS ANGELES (CBS) The Egyptian government's Internet blackout hasn't stopped the digital flow of information from protesters. As hundreds of thousands of Egyptians let their voices be heard in the streets of Cairo and beyond, major tech companies are opening new channels to get that message on the web.

Google and Twitter teamed up to launch Speak To Tweet. Users leave a phone message, which is then posted as an audio file on twitter under the hashtag "Egypt." And they are receiving an average of 2 per minute.

Other technologies are circumventing Internet providers and the government completely.

Avaaz, an international civic organization and community promoting activism and the Tor Project, "a system enabling its users to communicate anonymously on the Internet" have come together to send satellite internet devices in areas that have been cut off. I spoke to Avaaz

Executive Director Ricken Patel about the iniative, which they implemented in Burma when the crackdown happened on the Burmese monks. Through their over 7 million members on the site, Avaaz raised $350,000 to buy and provide satellite phones and BGan satellite Internet terminals that "allowed the monks to coordinate with each other without being tracked by the government."

They're currently sending satellite uplink terminals into Egypt---small laptop size machines that allow anybody to connect and surf the entire Internet worldwide.

"A crucial piece of this project is not just to give citizens of Egypt a way to break the blackout with the world and with each other with access to the Internet through satellite uplink terminals but to do so securely and anonymously because any other means of accessing the Internet can be tracked by the government and they're prosecuting people for doing so under sedition laws right now.

While the Egyptian has activated its kill switch, the United States might not be too far off from enforcing theirs. Joe Lieberman is currently co-sponsoring a bill that would allow Obama to do so in case of a "national cyber emergency". Lieberman and other countries for that matter might want to take note: cutting off the Internet, if like cutting off a life source--the individuals of your community not only need it but at least deserve the choice.

While internet censorship and blackouts have happened in other countries in the past, we can't underestimate the power of these tech and human driven movements to make it a thing of the past. "There's an alliance between the march of democracy we're on and the march of technology that allows citizens to be more informed and more active and more connected to each other than ever before. That's a train that has left the station. If it can work in Egypt--one of the most long running and brutal police states on the planet, it can work anywhere... and this is just the beginning what we're seeing right now."

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