A letter to the Supreme Council for Media Regulation submitted
by the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Technology and Law Community “Masaar”
Mr. / Head of the Supreme Council for Media Regulation
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and the Technology and Law Community “Masaar” sends you this letter regarding blocking of press and media websites in Egypt, since SCMR is the body entrusted with regulating the media sector in Egypt.
Since May 2017, Egyptian users have been unable to access a large number of websites that provide press and media content (at least 116 websites) and although more than three years have passed since the beginning of the practices of blocking websites in Egypt, there is still no announced legal basis for blocking these websites by any governmental or official agency.
The Arabic Network and Masaar affirms that blocking websites in Egypt is a violation of many provisions of the Egyptian Constitution, in which its article 57 guarantees the right of citizens to use public means of communication in all its forms, and interrupting or disconnecting them, or depriving the citizens from using them, arbitrarily is impermissible according to this article. Blocking these websites is also considered a violation of the freedom of the press, as there are 116 blocked press and media websites, and Article 70 of the Egyptian Constitution states that “Freedom of press and printing, along with paper, visual, audio and electronic publication is guaranteed….” and also according to Article 71 of the Constitution that prohibits the imposition of any kind of censorship on various media outlets.
Also, the practices of blocking websites and internet censorship violate Article 19 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which is binding on the Egyptian authorities and states: “Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers..”
Blocking press and media websites in Egypt violates the law regulating the press and the media, which stipulates in its second article that the state guarantees “freedom of the press, media, printing, paper, audio, visual and electronic publishing,” and in its third article it states that “censorship is prohibited, in any way, on Egyptian newspapers and media. It is prohibited to confiscate, suspend, or shut them down”.
Blocking websites and not announcing any legal basis for this practice is a violation of the public’s right to know and obtain information, a practice that contradicts what was stated in the Egyptian law, as Article 2 of the Egyptian Telecommunications Regulation Law stipulates the set of rules that must be considered in telecommunications services, and from these rules are the publicity of information and protection of users’ rights.
Given that the Supreme Council for Media Regulation is the body entrusted with regulating the media sector in Egypt, the Arab Network for Human Rights Information, the Technology and Law Community, “Masaar”, demands that:
• SCMR announces its decisions regarding blocking any press and media websites in Egypt (at least 116 websites).
• We hope that SCMR will ask the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority and Internet service providers in Egypt to lift the blocking of the blocked press and media websites in Egypt.
• SCMR should not impose any penalties by blocking websites that provide press and media content, as this is considered a constitutional violation, collective punishment, and a violation of citizens’ right to know and to circulate information.
The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information
Technology and Law Community “Masaar”