Parliamentarians and human rights activists demand gov't to end facebook monitoring
Parliamentarians and human rights activists demand gov't to end facebook monitoring
Wednesday, September 8,2010 03:32
By Husein Mahmoud

 In a recently published comment, Dr. Hamdi Hassan from the Muslim Brotherhood parliamentary bloc stressed that the Egyptian Ministry of Interior's recently stepped up monitoring of the popular web site Facebook is nothing short of the regime's authoritarian measures.

 The MOI has recently established a special unit  with 15 police personnel dedicated to monitoring Facebook for criticism of the current government. 

In a statement to Ikhwanweb, Hassan maintained that without doubt the security authorities have the right to monitor opposition activities for maintaining national Security. He stressed however that it should be done without violating individual's right of privacy.

"It is well noted that maintaining the regime's safety occupies 99, 9% of the Egyptian police's concerns as opposed to the less than 1% is devoted to public safety".

Hassan stressed that Egypt's political situation becomes highly effected since the government is especially sensitive regarding Facebook due to its central role as an organizing tool for general strikes and has a long history of persecuting and terrorizing its citizens over their free speech.

Leftist, human rights activist and lawyer of Al Nadim center Mohamed Abdul Aziz termed it as a natural consequence under a totalitarian rule. He indicated that the Ministry of Interior has become highly agitated and terrified of Facebook as a new tool which raises people's awareness and incites revolt against government.

Abdul Aziz confirmed that the leading role played by Facebook and the Internet has led to a qualitative change in Egypt, highlighting that its effects appeared in Khaled Saeed's story and the 6 April, 2008 general strikes. He added that they will not be able to limit the impact of young activists simply because not only do the activist not only exist on Facebook, but are also active on the street.

Osama Nour El Din, Director of the Research Unit at the Sawaseya Center for Human Rights and Countering Anti-Discrimination, has maintained that this measure hinders freedom of opinion and expression and is a desperate attempt to shut down the voices of opposition and stop them from freely expressing their views.

He alleged that such measures violate the Egyptian constitution and international covenants on Human Rights adding: "This is an evidence of the government's failure and inability to adopt issues of reform demanded by Egypt's national forces".

According to preliminary information, the Egyptian security authorities had been monitoring 'Facebook' but have had to pay particular attention since the unexpected general strike which occurred on 6 April, 2008 advocated by a girl through its site. The MOI has launched the special unit to monitor rival candidates of the NDP in the forthcoming elections in order to submit accurate reports to the Egyptian presidency.

Evidently the Egyptian government is using a company called Connect Ads as a front to evade some of Facebook's privacy restrictions. Facebook advertisers are able to retrieve information about Facebook visitors which is not normally available to regular Facebook users. The new unit reportedly works around the clock in three shifts and is staffed by three engineers, ten secretaries of police, and two police officers.

Sources also indicate that a group of the NDP's young men are currently working within the Party headquarters to fend off criticism and attack campaigns addressed to the NDP, President Mubarak and his son. They have established 166 Group on 'Facebook' supporting and promoting Mubarak Jr for the presidency, in addition to establishing 38 groups in favor of President Mubarak.