Egypt begins close monitoring of online communication with new technology

Ahram Online, Wednesday 17 Sep 2014

A sister company of a US-based cyber-security firm will begins using a new system that allows greater penetration of social networking sites

In this photo illustration, a Facebook logo on a computer screen is seen through glasses held by a woman in Bern May 19, 2012. Picture taken May 19, 2012 (Photo: Reuters)

Egypt has contacted a sister company of a US-based online security firm to monitor the country's cyber communications a few months after authorities unveiled a new campaign to keep  social networking sites under surveillance.

See Egypt, the sister company of US-based Blue Coat, has already started monitoring Egypt's online communications, according to BuzzFeed News which spoke with several Egyptian officials.

The company, which an anonymous official told BuzzFeed is close to the country's security apparatus, has planned to provide authorities with a technology called the Deep Packet Inspection which offers rigorous scrutiny by allowing tracking and providing statistical information.

“Our job as a company is to give them the system. I train the government on how to run it and we give them the program,” Ali Miniesy, the CEO of See Egypt, told BuzzFeed 

Miniesy said the program, similar to other systems used by western authorities including the US, can be used to "to penetrate WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, or other programs if needed."

Egypt’s interior ministry announced earlier in June it would implement a social media surveillance programme to track security threats such as terrorism—sparking ire on social media and among rights groups

Dismissing fear of a cyber-crackdown, the government said the controversial measure would operate in line with the law, stressing that private accounts will only be accessed upon a court order and that surveillance will only include public media.

The interior ministry was infamous for spying on citizens under deposed president Hosni Mubarak to quash political dissent and observers say the new campaign is meant to scale up practices already in use by the security apparatus

Authorities have arrested several suspects charged with inciting violence against police and army, the target of a mounting Islamist insurgency, in recent months.

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