• October 12, 2010

Gov’t restricts SMS messaging ahead of elections

Gov’t restricts SMS messaging ahead of elections

 New restrictions and regulations have been enforced by Egypt’s National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) in an attempt to increase control over the SMS messaging services available by mobile phone companies and media institutions. According to observers, the apparent effort is to thwart possible anti-regime activism during the weeks leading to next month’s parliamentary elections.

Egypt’s independent paper Al-Masry Al-Youm and other private and independent businesses have been notified by SMS news providers that they must receive permission and approval by the Ministry of Information and the Supreme Press Council before utilizing the service and sending news alerts out to subscribers. Well-informed sources confirmed that operators in Egypt providing SMS services without the appropriate license would now have to obtain permits in order to maintain the service.

Khaled Higazi, Director of Vodafone Government Relations Department stated that mobile phone companies had nothing to do with the new regulations. According to sources, the new regulations are a prelude to November’s parliamentary elections, stressing that Egypt’s strongest political opposition the Muslim Brotherhood had planned to use SMS messaging as part of their electoral campaigns.

The CEO of a messaging service provider ascertained that special “controllers” had been instructed to monitor text messages sent by the MB and opposition youth movements. He added that an agreement had been reached asserting that the NTRA will reportedly receive 3% of the companies’ SMS-generated revenue, and this will pay the salaries of the special controllers.