Judicial Report Supports Egyptian Interior Ministry’s Decision to Monitor Social Networking Sites

An Egyptian judicial report has supported the ministry of interior’s decision to allow monitoring the social media networks, according to Anadolu Agency.

The State Commissioners Authority, the advisory body for the State Council, has stated its support to a limited monitoring of the social networking sites by Egypt’s Interior Ministry.

The first official initiative for the monitoring activity was presented during former Interior Minister Major General Mohamed Ibrahim, who said it would not harm anybody’s freedoms, but would rather counteract the “dangers of social networking sites”.

In press statements in June 2014, he explained that the planned monitoring program would aim to tackle security problems that could spread via social media and hence have an impact on the security situation.

However, a lawsuit was filed in the same year at the Administrative Court of the State Council, opposing the ministry’s plans to monitor the social networking sites, claiming that such monitoring violates the freedoms stated in the Egyptian Constitution. The court issued the case and transferred it to the State Commissioners Authority to give its advice.

It is supposed that once the commissioners’ report reaches the Administrative Court, a court session will be held to oversee the case and then to set a court session for announcing the ruling.

It is noteworthy that the commissioners report is nonobligatory.

The commissioners’ report supported the ministry of interior’s decision to put out the program of the Security Threats of the Social Networking Sites to tender for assigning an IT company carry out the interior ministry monitoring plan. The report says that “The interior ministry aims at using the most developed programs to track the security threats on the social networking sites, and seek the persons who impose threats to the society and analyze their different views in order to develop the security system in the ministry.”

The report that supports the minister of interior’s plan said,”There are many pages on the social media that incite against the Egyptian state and its institutions which poses a major threat to Egypt’s national security.”

In response to these threats,”the minster of interior should implement its role stated in the constitution and protect the public and private property for both the citizens and the state. The matter will only be monitoring the social networking sites and will not exceed that,” according to the report.

Last August, the Administrative Court has rejected a lawsuit that called for removing Facebook and Twitter pages  for inciting violence. The Administrative Court ruling considered removing or controlling Facebook and Twitter as a violation of the basic human rights.

The social networking sites have played a major role during January Revolution 25 2011 that toppled Hosni Mubarak after 30 years of his autocratic rule.

In September 2014, Buzz Feed put the issue of social media monitoring back in the headlines, saying the Interior Ministry had contracted the company SEE Egypt to provide online tracking services, similar to those already used in the Western countries.

Buzz Feed said that SEE Egypt’s program can explore through large amounts of data from Facebook, Twitter, email accounts and other online information to identify any individuals that might pose a threat to the government.

Ali Miniesy, the CEO of SEE Egypt, told BuzzFeed, “The program, the training we give, can also be used to penetrate WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, or other programs if needed.”

However, after the BuzzFeed report, the media center of the Ministry of Interior denied there was any contract between the Interior Ministry and SEE Egypt. “This news is completely false,” the center added in a statement.