President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi approved on Friday the adherence of Egypt to an Arab convention that will see greater cooperation with Arab states on matters of cyber security.
The president’s decree sees Egypt sign the Arab Convention for Combating Information Technology Crimes, reported state-owned MENA.
The convention exists to “prevent, investigate and prosecute” crimes such as cyber attacks, child pornography, fraud, forgery, invasions of privacy, and “terrorism related offences… such as the dissemination of terrorist groups’ ideas and advocacy”.
The move comes amid concerns in Egypt over government surveillance of the internet, especially of social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter which are used extensively in Egypt by groups across the political spectrum.
Amnesty International warned Egyptian authorities against proposed plans for surveillance of social media. The international rights group said the plans would “deal a devastating blow to the rights to privacy and freedom of expression in the country”.
International telecommunications giant Vodafone revealed in June that the Egyptian government can legally obtain data from themselves and other companies when citing security reasons. This can only occur with the issuance of a warrant by the prosecutor or an investigating judge when dealing with a crime.
The Ministry of Interior has arrested dozens of social media users that use posts to “incite violence against security forces” or spread information of police officers, such as their home addresses.
A lawsuit was filed in June by rights groups and ‘concerned citizens’ to prevent the interior ministry from “unlawful and unconstitutional conduct” over fears of “total surveillance” that would not require a legal warrant.