The case filed by Mada Masr requesting the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to reveal the legal and administrative grounds for the blocking of its website has been adjourned to October 1 by the administrative court, as per a request by the government representative to review the case documents.
The first session was held on Saturday at the State Council and attended by a representative of the NTRA.
Mada requested that the NTRA be obliged to reveal the official decision to block the website, and an explanation of the technical and administrative grounds for the decision. It also requested the court to compel internet service providers to remove all technical restrictions and allow users to access the website.
The NTRA representative argued that the authority is not responsible for blocking websites and doesn’t have the technology to carry it out. He argued that the National Security Council and “other authorities” are the ones to question about the blocking.
He suggested that it was possible that the Supreme Media Council issued the decision as the authority tasked with issuing licenses for media outlets.
The representative submitted an official request to the court to dismiss the case.
Lawyer Hassan al-Azhary, Mada’s representative, insisted to hold the NTRA responsible for answering inquiries related to the blocking as the only authority mandated by law to regulate communications.
Al-Azhary submitted copies of letters sent by the Mada administration to the telecommunications minister and the head of NTRA requesting information about the blocking.
Access to Mada Masr and 20 other websites was blocked in Egypt on May 24, as the state-owned Middle East News Agency quoted “a senior security source” saying that the blocked websites “publish content that supports terrorism and extremism and intentionally propagate lies.”
No authority has claimed responsibility for the blocking since, and the legal basis for the decision was not revealed despite complaints filed by the Journalists Syndicate on behalf of the website, which also filed complaints to the Supreme Media Council, the telecommunications minister, and the NTRA.
According to the latest report by the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression, the number of blocked websites in Egypt reached 429 last Thursday, including news websites, blogs and a number of proxy and VPN service providers. Most recently, the website of Human Rights Watch was blocked one day after the international rights organization published a report on torture in Egypt.