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Bahrain Internet traffic down. Blocked?

MANAMA, Bahrain, Feb. 18 (UPI) -- Internet access has apparently been restricted in Bahrain, where protests erupted in recent days, an organization monitoring Internet traffic said.

Information gathered by Arbor Networks indicates Internet traffic in and out of Bahrain experienced an irregular drop, apparently coinciding with the protests, The New York Times reported Friday.

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Jose Nazario, senior manager of security research at the Massachusetts-based company, said Internet traffic was 10 percent to 20 percent below expected levels of information moving through Internet core lines in and out of Bahrain.

Usually a fluctuation of that size is caused only by natural disasters or major global sporting events, Nazario said. Because Bahrain has had neither in the past few days, he said the most likely explanation was that the government was blocking many sites on the Internet.

However, Nazario told the Times he couldn't definitively eliminate technical problems with Internet carriers inside the country as a reason for the drop.

Jillian York of Harvard, project coordinator for the OpenNet Initiative, said the Arbor Networks findings were consistent with reports that Bahrainis had been blocked from various sites.

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