The Egyptian government is now monitoring all online communications on Facebook, Twitter, and Skype with the use of a company called See Egypt .
See Egypt, which is the sister company of U.S a security organization called Blue Coat, will be the first of its kind used by the Egyptian authorities. With the use of Deep Packet Inspection technology, See Egypt enables the Egyptian government to monitor Internet traffic as well as track and locate users.
Thousands of users in Egypt reported that Voice over IP, or VoIP services, the technology which allows free voice calls through WhatsApp or similar applications, were blocked Monday. The blockage of these services were denied by multiple governmental officials, according to Mada Masr . However, the "Save the internet" hashtag has become a trending topic on Twitter as Egyptians are still unable to access the services.
The Egyptian government has publicly stated that the online surveillance will only be conducted to prevent terror attacks as well as monitoring online publications and news outlets to ensure the accuracy of their reporting.
According to BuzzFeed News, however, one official working for the Egyptian Interior Ministry said, under the condition of anonymity, that the use of the new technology would be much broader and would not only target terrorists.
“We are looking at any conversation or any interaction that we might find worrying" the official said. “We are watching conversations between Islamists and we are safeguarding the values that are important to Egyptians” he added, implying that skepticism of religion, homosexual, immoral and illegal acts online will be monitored and users will be prosecuted.
Ever since President Abdel-Fattah Al Sisi's rise to power after the ousting of President Mohammed Morsi, a member of the banned Muslim Brotherhood group, the LGBT community in Egypt witnessed a severe crackdown and multiple arrests, which resulted in issued disclaimers by Grindr and similar websites warning the LGBT community of the risk at hand.
Furthermore, a number of atheists in the country were also arrested after Sisi became president through a series of online stings. The latest, which resulted in arrest and a 3 year prison sentence for 21-year-old Karim Al Banna, was done through Facebook. Banna posted a Facebook status declaring his atheism and was arrested shorly afterwards.
Several Egyptian human rights groups are already trying to take down the severe online monitoring system by filing a lawsuit on the grounds of threatening freedom of speech.