Letter to the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority submitted by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Technology and Law Community “Masaar”

20 September, 2020

Mr. / President of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority

Mr. / Executive President of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority

 

After Greetings

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and the Technology and Law Community “Masaar” sends you this letter regarding blocking websites in Egypt, since the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) is the authority entrusted with managing the communications sector in Egypt.

Since May 2017, Egyptian users have been unable to access a large number of websites (at least 600). Websites that include: press and media, cultural, political websites, websites that provide content on human rights and others, there is still no announced legal basis for blocking these websites by NTRA despite the passage of more than three years since the beginning of blocking websites practices in Egypt.

The Arabic Network and Masaar affirms that blocking websites in Egypt is a violation of many provisions of the Egyptian Constitution, in which its article 57 guarantees the right of citizens to use public means of communication in all its forms, and interrupting or disconnecting them, or depriving the citizens from using them, arbitrarily is impermissible according to this article.  Blocking these websites is also considered a violation of the freedom of the press, as there are 116 blocked press and media websites, and Article 70 of the Egyptian Constitution states that “Freedom of press and printing, along with paper, visual, audio and electronic publication is guaranteed….” and also according to Article 71 of the Constitution that prohibits the imposition of any kind of censorship on various media outlets.

Also, the practices of blocking websites and internet censorship violate Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is binding on the Egyptian authorities and states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers..”

Blocking websites and not announcing any legal basis for this practice is a violation of the public’s right to know and obtain information, a practice that contradicts what was stated in the Egyptian law, as Article 2 of the Egyptian Telecommunications Regulation Law stipulates the set of rules that must be considered in telecommunications services, and from these rules are the publicity of information and protection of users’ rights.

And considering that NTRA is the authority entrusted with managing the telecommunications sector in Egypt, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information and the Technology and Law Community “Masaar” demands that:

  • NTRA Completely stops practicing any kind of blocking websites and filtering content.
  • NTRA lifts the blocking of blocked websites from May 2017 until now.
  • NTRA announces the legal basis on which more than 600 websites have been blocked during the past three years.