Judicial body supports Interior Ministry plan to monitor social media

The State Commissioners Authority, the advisory body for the State Council, has lent its support to the limited monitoring of social media by Egypt's Interior Ministry.

A lawsuit was filed earlier this year with the Administrative Court of the State Council, opposing the ministry's plans to monitor social media, claiming that such monitoring violates the freedoms laid out in the Egyptian Constitution.

The possibility of official monitoring activity was first circulated under former Interior Minister Major General Mohamed Ibrahim, who said it would not harm anybody's freedoms, but would rather counteract the “dangers of social media”.

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.

In September the same year, BuzzFeed 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 Western countries.

BuzzFeed said that SEE Egypt's program can sift 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.

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

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.

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