In response to a social media uproar, Minister of Interior Mohamed Ibrahim said on Monday that monitoring internet websites will not violate freedoms, but protects national security.
Ibrahim told state-run MENA that the new system, which is being developed by the ministry and is titled “monitoring security threats on social media and public opinion”, does not lead to the restriction of freedoms, silencing the public or invasion of privacy. Its purpose is to enhance the technicalities of the ministry’s civil work.
This comes in light of the social media’s effect on the security condition of the country, especially “in the field of terrorism, and the spreading of how to manufacture bombs and IEDs, as well as getting hold of manufacturing materials, electric circuits, the knowhow of remote explosions, and killings”.
“[The system] is unconstitutional”, says lawyer Amr Imam. He added that there exist no laws to try those arrested for violating the newly installed regulations.
Article 57 of the newly passed 2014 constitution states: “The right to privacy may not be violated, shall be protected and may not be infringed upon. Postal, telegraphic and electronic correspondences, telephone calls, and other means of communication are inviolable, and their confidentiality is guaranteed. They may not be confiscated, revealed or monitored except by virtue of a reasoned judicial order, for a definite period, and only in the cases defined by the law. The state shall protect the citizens’ right to use all forms of public means of communications. Interrupting or disconnecting them, or depriving the citizens from using them, arbitrarily, is impermissible. This shall be regulated by law.”
The new interior ministry monitoring system enables extended search options through keywords that violate the law, are against decency and societal norms, incite violence and spread chaos and strife. This is aimed at repelling threats to security and stability of society and between families. It will monitor, analyse and survey the extent to which the youth are affected by “disruptive ideas” on social media.
The system is protected and cannot be hacked, asserted the minister.
The system, which has been enforced publicly since 11 May, has been previously used and experimented in the United States and European countries, and can deal with Arabic and English, as well as “Franco Arabic”.
Ibrahim said: “It does not make sense, after two great revolutions… for the ministry to restrict freedom. On the contrary, [the military] protects freedoms and rights.” He said that that the new regime will not affect the rights and freedom of the citizens, but will create a balance between national security and freedom.