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Press Release
Egypt: Increasing Curb over Internet Usage
Harassments against Net Cafés should immediately End

Cairo - February 23, 2005

     Cairo- February 23, 2005- The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information condemned today the procedures taken by Egypt's Ministry of Interior against the net cafés' managers and owner, as they are were ordered to record their customers' names and ID numbers.

     Earlier, the police used to summon the net cafés' owners and managers to order them to record their customers' names from their IDs in a record that has to be shown to the state security officer in whose jurisdiction area the net café is located. Though it is an unlawful procedure, police officers have threatened the managers and owners with closing their net cafés if they refused to implement it.

     HRinfo's staff members have met some net cafés owners, who asserted that these orders are illegal; they limit their customers' numbers, which, in turn, lead to their loss. Despite the Egyptian Government's claims of encouraging the Internet use, these orders do the contrary.

     "We denounce such decision and felt shocked in regard. Especially that Dr. Amed Nazeef, the Prime Minister belongs to the ICT field. Such decision is considered to be a gross violation to the right to privacy, committed without the prime minister's knowledge or permission, while if it was committed with his knowledge, the plight would be greater" said Gamal Eid, HRino's executive director.

     This procedure comes parallel to another procedure that also limits the internet use in Egypt, which is taken by Alaa Fahmy, executive director of the National Authority of Communications Control. Fahmy decided to impose punishments on the ADSL companies providing the ADSL service with low prices. Meaning that such service will be provided only for the rich users, a huge number of internet users who can not afford the high prices will be deprived of the ADSL service because of this governmental decision.

     "Egyptian government, with its prime minister, Ahmed Nazif, thinks that it is not enough to ban several websites, it also smacks the citizens' right to privacy and their freedom to use the internet. The prime minister, in person, is the main responsible for these violations. For he seems to use his personal experience in the ICT field to ease the way for the police control over the internet, in violation to article 19 of the International Covenant of the Civil and Political Rights, which was ratified by Egypt: "every one shall have the right to freedom of expression which includes the right to seek, receive and impart information." Eid added.

     HRinfo argues the Egyptian government to stop these procedures immediately, and to be credible in its claims to encourage the internet use and make it accessible to everyone, and not only the rich ones.

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