Ministry of Interior Denies Reports of Heightened Internet Surveillance

The Ministry of Interior has denied reports that Egypt contracted an outside company to monitor social media inside the country. On September 17, BuzzFeed News reported that Egypt had already begun to work with Systems Engineering of Egypt (SEE), a partner of the U.S.-based Web communications security firm Blue Coat Systems, to monitor usage of sites like Skype, Twitter, and Facebook, among others. In a statement, the Ministry of Interior said that reports of Internet monitoring are an attempt to “shake the people’s confidence” in the ministry and that these claims are false, discouraging local news outlets from reporting the story. Although the Egyptian Ministry of Interior denies widespread monitoring, previous statements from ministry officials indicated that the Ministry is openly targeting “Islamists, homosexuals and any others who do not reflect the Egyptian mainstream societal views.”  Human rights groups, including Amnesty International, have spoken out against the alleged surveillance program, emphasizing the danger that mass monitoring poses to freedom and privacy.