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Italy-based Seabone said no Internet traffic was going into or out of Egypt after 12:30 a.m. local time.

“There’s no way around this with a proxy,” Cowie said. “There is literally no route. It’s as if the entire country disappeared. You can tell I’m still kind of stunned.”

The technical act of turning off the Internet can be fairly straightforward. It likely requires only a simple change to the instructions for the companies’ networking equipment.

Craig Labovitz, chief scientist for Arbor Networks, a Chelmsford, Mass., security company, said that in countries such as Egypt _ with a centralized government and a relatively small number of fiber-optic cables and other ways for the Internet to get piped in _ the companies that own the technologies are typically under strict licenses from the government.

“It’s probably a phone call that goes out to half a dozen folks who enter a line on a router configuration file and hit return,” Labovitz said. “It’s like programming your TiVo _ you have things that are set up and you delete one. It’s not high-level programming.”

Twitter confirmed Tuesday that its service was being blocked in Egypt, and Facebook reported problems.

Iran went through the same pattern,” Labovitz said. “Initially there was some level of filtering, and as things deteriorated, the plug was pulled. It looks like Egypt might be following a similar pattern.”

The ease with which Egypt cut itself also means the country can control where the outages are targeted, experts said. So its military facilities, for example, can stay online while the Internet vanishes for everybody else.

Experts said it was too early to tell which, if any, facilities still have connections in Egypt.

Cowie said his firm is investigating clues that a small number of small networks might still be available.

Meanwhile, a program Renesys uses that displays the percentage of each country that is connected to the Internet was showing a figure that he was still struggling to believe. Zero.

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On The Web: http://renesys.com/blog/