The Interior Ministry of Egypt recently announced the receipt of proposals from seven foreign technology companies in response to their request for technology firms outside of their territory to help them monitor the activities of their citizens in various social media websites. The Egyptian government is said to have been prompted to ask for the assistance of technology firms to prevent the increasing number of crimes in the country, and to help the international community in tracking terrorists.
Amidst a speculation that this is a move to stop Egyptian anti-government activists from expressing their opinions against the military-backed government, Interior Minister Mohammed Ibrahim recently released a statement through the state news agency saying that the latest project aims to improve the nation’s security and not to restrict any form of freedom.
According to a source from the Interior Ministry, the plan, which was announced just days after the provisional results of the presidential elections were released, came into being after they received confirmation that what the government suspects as terrorists started communicating using the different social media platforms.
What allegedly brought about the speculation against the plan, in relation to the results of the recent presidential elections, was the loss of Egypt’s first ever freedom elected leader to Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, a former army chief. Sisi was also the subject of criticisms against the government and was being blamed for the increase in human rights abuse after he removed Mohamed Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood from his post. The government’s security forces have allegedly jailed and even killed hundreds of the Muslim Brotherhood leader’s supporters, after the group was declared a terrorist group by the government. The crackdown against the 86-year-old organization is said to be the worst in its entire history.
The government of Egypt is not new to criticisms aired against its leaders through social media websites. In 2011, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter was used by pro-democracy activists to attack the government led by Hosni Mubarak with a call for mass protests. These social media websites were instrumental to the large uprising against Mubarak, which led to the autocrat’s ouster in the same year.
While anti-government activists continue to speculate the real intention of the government, the latter stands firm on its announcement that the passing of the law is to protect the government and its people from insurgents, adding that the stringent policy aims to make their monitoring measures more up-to-date, especially with the constantly growing audience reach of the social media websites today.