Sunday, 29 August 2010


Ramy Raoof writes "Egypt: Security Department to Monitor Facebook"

  • Sunday, 29 August 2010
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  • Ramy Raoof wrote the following piece for Global Voices Online today (August 29, 2010) revealing the latest efforts of the Egyptian Ministry of Interior (MoI) to curb Facebook-based pro-democracy and opposition activism in Egypt. According to Raoof, the MoI launched a new department on July 1, 2010 to monitor Facebook activists - something the MoI has been doing in numerous waves and ways since the threat of non-traditional 'New Media' became more obvious to the Egyptian regime.

    The role played by so-called 'New Media' and 'Citizen Journalists' surfaced in the past few years, especially after the, arguably, successful organisation of the 6 April strike in 2008. Prior to the strike, bloggers and internet activists used blogs, social networking website Facebook, micro-blogging website Twitter and video-sharing website YouTube to reveal torture cases and other violations of human rights in Egypt.

    2010 featured a new turn in internet activism when the murder of middle class Alexandrian entrepreneur Khalid Sa'id, 28, triggered a Facebook-based protest movement which quickly took to the streets and has been institutionalised in almost-weekly protests by a wide array of Egyptians from countless cities in Egypt and amongst the Egyptian diaspora. The fact that Khalid Sa'id was an "ordinary Egyptian" from a middle class background angered a segment of the population traditionally seen as tied to and acquiescent with the regime, hence, the significance of the "we are all Khalid Sa'id" movements which started on Facebook.

    Raoof also draws attention to an alleged initiative by the National Democratic Party (NDP) and its followers amongst the youth to defend the ruling party, incumbent president Hosni Mubarak and his son Gamal.


    Here's what Raoof wrote for Global Voices Online:

    Egypt: Security Department to Monitor Facebook

    On 1st July, 2010, the Egyptian Ministry of Interior (MOI) has reportedly established a special department to monitor Facebook activities and content in Egypt according to the administrative decision 765.

    Based on the Kuwaiti newspaper
    Aljarida, this new MOI department works according to three shifts/8 hours each. Each shift is composed of 15 individuals: 2 police officers, 10 secretaries of police and 3 engineers. The main task of this group is to monitor Facebook content like groups, pages and chat and to publish reports countering online criticism of current Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak or his son Gamal.

    An anonymous security source mentioned to Aljarida that Egyptian security authorities used to censor Facebook among other websites but the MOI paid special attention to Facebook in 2008 after the first call for 6 April Strike that was organized on Facebook.

    The anonymous source mentioned to the newspaper that there are groups of paid young Egyptians from the
    National Democratic Party (NDP) youth, to defense the NDP and the government. According to the same source they have already created 166 Facebook group in support of president's son Gamal Mubarak and 38 other groups supporting his father, resident Hosni Mubarak.

    In February 2010, the Egyptian digital advertising company Connect Ads
    announced to be the Facebook official representative for Middle East and North Africa and I wonder what is the current relation between the MOI department and Connect Ads, because at some point the MOI will need to collect personal information about the Facebook users in Egypt.

    It will not be strange if a Facebook user faced a trial or get arrested based on his or her online activity in Egypt, like the trial taking place against Egyptian activists facing several charges, such as the
    misuse of world wide web.

    The numbers of Facebook users in Egypt jumped to 3.8 million, according to a recent
    report by E-Marketing. Consequently, there is team of 45 members in Egypt who are monitoring the activities of these 3.8 million as well as the monitoring of e-mail.

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