1. Who are we?
We are a group of lawyers and technologists interested in enhancing and promoting digital rights and related freedoms in Egypt. We focus on merging law and technology and deepening our understanding of their impact on human rights and fundamental freedoms. Masaar will initially focus on promoting the enjoyment of these rights in Egypt, but not in isolation from the human rights situation in other countries in the Middle East and the world. This focus stems from the fact that surveillance and censorship policies, restrictions on digital media and the denial of freedom of information are concern common to all countries. In particular, countries in the Middle East and North Africa region share specific economic and political trends that contributed to the 2011 uprising and still inform people’s protests today.
Masaar’s work is informed by the international law and standards of human rights, including the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, the International Covenant on Economic Social and Cultural Rights and the International Principles on the Application of Human Rights to Communications Surveillance.
2. Our Vision
Free technology is a theory and practice which help communities to develop and liberate themselves, especially in countries suffering from rupture, conflict, authoritarianism and censorship. These problems limit individuals’ ability to create, communicate and tolerate each other’s differences. In this context, our vision to digital rights goes beyond issues of privacy, data ownership and excessive censorship. Instead, we see the enjoyment of digital rights as a necessary condition for peaceful political change, coexistence, development and conflict resolution in our societies.
3. Our Message
Masaar seeks to support and promote digital rights and free, open, and safe cyberspace. We work to make Internet and communications accessible to all without any restrictions on fundamental rights and freedoms through the available legal and technical means. We believe that technologists and legal professionals should work together to provide mutual understanding and creat knowledge necessary to confront the practices of governments and non-state actors, restricting fundamental rights and freedoms.
4. Our objectives
- Finding common ground between technologists and lawyers to share and exchange knowledge pertinent to the reinforcement of digital rights.
- Enriching Arabic content online on the relationship between law and technology based on a progressive understanding of human rights principles and supporting the production of free and collaborative knowledge on the Internet.
- Providing legal knowledge in appropriate formats which can be used by technologists, lawyers and unspecialized users with a focus on topics related to digital rights.
- Offering technical knowledge about practices of state and non-state actors in fields of censorship, blocking websites and mass surveillance and methods to overcome these illegal practices.
- Offering legal representation and using strategic litigation to support victims of violations of digital rights.
- Supporting free expression, especially on digital platforms.
- Advocating digital rights in Egypt before international fora.
5. Our Values
5.1. Free and Open Internet
We believe that the Internet should be a free space for everyone to express their opinions without any restrictions. We believe that all people have the right to freedom of expression without restrictions which would undermine it. Internet and developments in the telecommunication sector have offered the opportunity for a world where the enhancement of individual rights and freedoms is possible.
5.2. Free Knowledge
We believe that all people should have access to information online through appropriate ways and free licenses. We support cooperative knowledge production and legal localization of licenses to be used by content authors without restrictions on digital rights.
5.3. Right to Internet Access
We believe everyone has the right to access and use the Internet, communications and electronic devices without any discrimination. Governments and non-state actors should ensure the protection of this right in their practices.
5.4. Right to Privacy
All people have the right to protect their privacy, data and personal information, including information available to the public. We believe in people’s right to control and manage their data and digital information and that governments and non-state actors have an obligation to protect that right.
We believe in solidarity as a way to achieve freedom and equality and in the role of the Internet as means to build public resources and joint organization to harness efforts required to support and promote fundamental rights and freedoms for individuals and societies.
5.6. Other Rights and Freedoms
Cyber space should be open to the exercise of all fundamental rights, including freedom of thought, religious freedoms, freedom of association, the right to participate in public affairs and freedom of information.