Egyptian Panel Examines System To Block Online Pornography

Article Summary
An Egyptian parliamentary commission sent delegates to the UAE to evaluate their system for blocking pornography, suggesting that Internet censorship might find its way into law. Mohammad Gharib reports that because Internet blocks are easy to evade, parliament must weigh the pros and cons of enacting such legislation.  

On May 17 [2012], the Egyptian Parliamentary Commission for Transport and Communications discussed a report prepared by one of its delegations to evaluate the UAE’s system for blocking pornographic sites.

Engineer Walid Zakaria, director of the Computer Emergency Response Team at the National Telecom Regulatory Authority, said that the best system available to Egypt for blocking pornographic sites is the one used by the Emirati company Du. Its estimated cost is between $7 million and $8 million.

Users can circumvent the block by using either an encrypted proxy service or satellite system. This would make it difficult for authorities to trace potential criminals in the event of an investigation.

Amr Badawi, head of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority, said that he is eager to block these sites, saying that  "both the Minister and I want to fight this radically." Mustafa Mohammad, vice president of the National Telecom Regulatory Authority, stressed the need to create legislation that would criminalize circumventing the block. He said that creating awareness of such a law would be crucial, since hacking into these sites is rather easy — within half an hour of blocking Twitter during the revolution, at least 30,000 tweeters still managed to access the site.

Sabri Amer, chairman of the committee, urged the National Telecom Regulatory Authority to submit a detailed report on the advantages and disadvantages of the block. Zakaria admitted that downsides to the system include privacy concerns.  

Amer commissioned the parliamentary committee to visit the UAE and evaluate their system for blocking pornographic sites. The committee met with officials from two Emirati companies, Etisalat and Du.

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