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Egypt In Move Towards Internet Censorship, Likely To Ban Porn Sites

News today suggesting that Egypt may seek to censor internet activity shows the country may be moving in a more extreme direction.
28.03.12 | Interesting article at ValueWalk

The situation in Egypt since the Arab Spring deposition of Hosni Mubarak is one we’ve reported on before. News today suggesting that Egypt may seek to censor internet activity shows the country may be moving in a more extreme direction than most in the west had hoped. The country’s Ministry of Telecommunications and Information Technology is taking preliminary measures to ban access to online pornograph according to local news source the Egypt Independent. The Minister in Charge of the area, Mohamed Salem announced last Thursday that the blocking of Pornography was a priority for his department. He said the issue was one which was “worrying to families”.

The news comes after a request from the People’s Assembly Transport and Telecommunications Committee earlier in the month to block access to sites with adult content and punish web services which allowed access to them. The Minister announced the formation of a new committee to advise the Ministry on technical solutions to regulate access to pornographic websites.

Internet censorship will worry those who see Egypt as becoming decreasingly democratic following the uprising last year. The success of that political movement was driven, many analysts say, by the flexibility and ubiquity of social media communication. Sites like Twitter and Facebook were used to organize protests during the crisis. The new policy by the government, if it becomes law, will demonstrate the regime’s attitude toward freedom of speech in the wake of the Arab Spring.

That attitude reflects the alliance between military power and Islamists which has kept the country somewhat stable in the past year. The Muslim Brotherhood, an international Islamist party, has garnered a huge level of support in the country and is at this stage eyeing a run for the country’s presidential position. In recent weeks the alliance has seemed less than impermeable with Brotherhood figures speaking out against the position of the Generals, the most important of whom being Field Marshal Hussein Tantawi, who seek to keep control of military affairs entirely in the hands of the military. The Muslim Brotherhood favor a more democratic model in which the military is subservient to the state’s rulers rather than codependent.

Egypt’s military leaders receive billions in aid from the United States under the condition that they continue to support Israel’s security and existence. Th money gives them a great deal of sway over Egypt’s political sphere and the desire to keep that power may push them into greater conflict with liberals and Islamists alike who seek to reduce their influence.

The choice between a military autocracy or an Islamist democratic state that appears to be lining up in the Mediterranean Nation will disappoint any who had hoped for a truly democratic Egypt. The democratic rhetoric of the Muslim Brotherhood is surely in conflict with their censorship ambitions revealed by the pornography blocking policy. Either way the power in the state is likely not to rest in the hands of the people, with military autocracy and Islamism seeking power it is likely to be one or the other or a continued precarious balance that holds the reigns for the coming future.