Egypt's prime minister from the religious extremist party, al-Nour Salafist, is pushing for a complete ban of internet porn.
According to reports, Younis Makhioun has requested an urgent briefing to be discussed in Egypt's lower house. He said:
These sites spread evil among different sects of the Egyptian society, its content is criminalized by Egyptian law as well as being a breach of religious beliefs and social values and morals.
Despite an outcry from some Egyptians about the loss of personal freedoms and the possibility of further censorship to non-porn sites, the prime minister stated that blocking adult sites should not be considered a breach of freedom of speech.
The new proposed ban is expected to pass the Islamist-dominated parliament.
What started out as a call by an Egyptian member of parliament, has now reached the Ministry of Telecommunications taking its initial steps to
block Internet pornography in the country, local daily, Egypt Independent reports.
According to the newspaper, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Mohamed Salem announced that the National Telecommunications Regulation Authority (NTRA) is forming a committee to tackle to methods in which the censorship will be
implemented. The committee will also reportedly consist of members of parliament.
The extremist MP, Dr. Younis Makhioun said last month that access to pornography has had a negative effect on families, and has even led to divorce and rape.
Makhioun and Salem are not the only supporters for the ban of Internet pornography, with the parliamentary committee for Transportation and Telecommunications asking not only that access to these sites be blocked, but are also pushing for legislation
that will allow for the punishment of ISPs that don't comply with the ban.
Several ISPs already offer customers the option to block their own personal access to adult content, including Egypt's largest ISP, TEData, with its Family Internet service , which allows users to block supposedly indecent content .
An Egyptian court has outright declared internet pornography illegal. The move comes as pressure mounted on the ruling parties to do something about a supposed pornography problem from nutter groups.
Questions arise as to how enforceable the new law could possibly be. A court in Egypt proclaimed a similar ban in 2009 and it never saw any practical implementation. The country could simply declare it illegal. The other option for the country is to
filter its citizen's internet access, a method that is being actively investigated according to rulers, and one which raises many more questions about the country's future.
This move could be the shot that signals a very different Egypt and one that the west won't find as cooperative as has been enjoyed in recent times. The military is still pro west, the country receives billions in military aid every year to keep them
that way and to continue their influence over the country's policy. Egypt is very important to the United States for two major reasons. The country borders Israel whose security is a strategic imperative and it surrounds the Suez canal one of the world's
most important shipping routes and the most important in terms of energy.
Increasing influence of Islamist groups within Egypt has led to state prosecutor, Abdel Maguid Mahmoud, ordering the blocking of all pornographic pictures
or scenes inconsistent with the repressive values and traditions of the Egyptian people.
The prosecutor cited a 2009 that ordered all porn sites to be banned, and another this March, when an Egyptian judge decreed that all pornography on the internet was illegal.
Critics of the rise of Islamic parties in the country warn that the move will inevitably be a pretext to censor other speech, as well. Mona Eltahawy, an Egyptian-American activist, tweeted: '
I'm not arguing with anyone about porn but know this: 'ban' porn sites today, ban your sites tomorrow.'
Egypt is ready to start blocking pornographic websites. Sherif Hashem, deputy head of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority said:
The companies providing Internet service in Egypt have installed filters in their networks since January to block any content demanded by the judicial authorities in Egypt,.
Hashem now asks that concerned authorities specifically define what websites should be blocked so that the government can ask Internet providers to block them. He explained:
There is no such thing as blocking such sites as a whole, but they must be specified.
In November, the former prosecutor general sent official letters to the communications and information technology minister, the interior minister and the head of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority ordering that they block pornographic websites.
Egypt's judiciary has turned down a court case calling for banning of internet pornography websites.
The case was filed by lawyer Ibrahim Atteya, citing article two of the now suspended 2012 constitution. The article stated that the principles of Islamic Sharia are the main source of legislation. Atteya claimed that internet websites which spread indecency
do not comply with Islamic Sharia.
The case was turned down since Atteya failed to abide by proper procedure when filing his original requests to cancel the decision.
Hassan Azhary, lawyer at the Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE) had argued that: Technically speaking, the internet pornography ban is almost impossible . He explained that the ban is very costly; it could costs
millions of Egyptian pounds. He added that it's very difficult to list down the names of all pornography websites. Azhary also said there are some programs which can open banned websites: A ban would be a waste of public money.
An Egyptian court has ordered Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb to impose a ban on pornographic websites. A similar decision taken two years ago described
pornographic content as somehow venomous and vile, but failed to come into force.
The latest ruling is to be immediately enforced, but it can be appealed at the Supreme Administrative Court, Ahram Online reported.
During the hearing, lawyer Nezar Gharab said that pornographic websites lead to a spread in immorality, affecting young people:
Islamic Sharia law and all heavenly religions came to elevate human beings to a desired level of dignity.
This summer, the Egyptian government started to block access to news websites. At last count, it had blocked more than 400 websites.
Realising that citizens are using Virtual Private Network (VPN) services to bypass such censorship, the government also started to block access to VPN websites.
In addition to this, ISPs have started using deep packet inspection (DPI) techniques in order to identify and block VPN traffic. Egypt blocked the Point-to-Point Tunneling Protocol (PPTP) and Layer 2 Tunneling Protocol (L2TP) VPN protocols in
August. However, until now OpenVPN, worked fine. This allowed ordinary Egyptians to access the uncensored internet.
On 3 October, however, the situation changed. It was reported on reddit that Egypt has now blocked OpenVPN as well. It seems that ISPs are using DPI techniques to detect OpenVPN packets.
Egyptian parliamentarians will soon review a draft anti-cybercrime law that could codify internet censorship practices into national law.
While the Egyptian government is notorious for censoring websites and platforms on national security grounds, there are no laws in force that explicitly dictate what is and is not permissible in the realm of online censorship. But if the draft law
is approved, that will soon change.
Article 7 of the anti-cybercrime law would give investigative authorities the right to order the censorship of websites whenever evidence arises that a website broadcasting from inside or outside the state has published any phrases, photos or
films, or any promotional material or the like which constitute a crime, as set forth in this law, and poses a threat to national security or compromises national security or the national economy. Orders issued under Article 7 would need to be
approved by a judge within 72 hours of being filed.
Article 31 of the law holds internet service providers responsible for enacting court-approved censorship orders. ISP personnel that fail to comply with orders can face criminal punishment, including steep fines (a minimum of 3 million Egyptian
pounds, or 170,000 US dollars) and even imprisonment, if it is determined that their refusal to comply with censorship orders results in damage to national security or the death of one or more persons.
In an interview with independent Cairo-based media outlet Mada Masr, Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression legal director Hassan al-Azhari argued that this would be impossible to prove in practice.
The law also addresses issues of personal data privacy, fraud, hacking, and communications that authorities fear are spreading terrorist and extremist ideologies.
The new 45-article cybercrime law, named the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes law, is divided into two parts. The first part of the bill
stipulates that service providers are obligated to retain user information (i.e. tracking data) in the event of a crime, whereas the second part of the bill covers a variety of cybercrimes under overly broad language (such as threat to national
Article 7 of the law, in particular, grants the state the authority to shut down Egyptian or foreign-based websites that incite against the Egyptian state or threaten national security through the use of any digital content, media, or advertising.
Article 2 of the law authorizes broad surveillance capabilities, requiring telecommunications companies to retain and store users' data for 180 days. And Article 4 explicitly enables foreign governments to obtain access to information on Egyptian
citizens and does not make mention of requirements that the requesting country have substantive data protection laws.