Satellite Internet arrives in Egypt, with strings attached

Newly available satellite broadband technology will give Egyptians a faster Internet connection, but one that will be carefully monitored and recorded, the privately owned newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (AMAY) reported on Tuesday.

“Security bodies” provided the National Telecom Regulatory Authority with a list of security guidelines to facilitate state surveillance of the satellite connection, according to AMAY.

Stipulations included creating an operations center that could be freely accessed by the security apparatus, with the understanding that the authorities could conduct surprise visits at any time, AMAY reported.

Service providers wishing to avail themselves of the technology, which will be provided via the Ka-Band service, must receive prior security clearance, the report continued.  

User identification will be indexed by the regulating authority, which will also compile a database of all Internet activity conducted over the satellite connection, including details such as time, date and user identity. According to AMAY, the service provider will be legally bound to keep a log of this data.

Privacy and online security advocates have recently expressed concerns regarding the government’s beefed up measures to control and monitor Internet activity. Leaked reports by local and international media outlets about new surveillance technology acquired by the state has provoked widespread alarm.

The government controls Egypt’s core Internet infrastructure by maintaining key technology in the main state-owned telecom company, which leases its services to other Internet service providers.

Internet users in Egypt reached 36 million in 2014, according to reports by the state-run Central Agency for Public Mobilization and Statistics. 


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