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After protracted legal wrangling, the State Commissioner’s Authority, advisory body to the State Council, has recommended that the Administrative Court uphold an Interior Ministry program designed to monitor and analyze social media activity.

A lawsuit was brought against the program by a number of human rights groups in June, part of a larger campaign resisting [Ar] privacy violations by the Interior Ministry since the surveillance program was announced in 2014.
While the ministry and its supporters have defended the program as a necessary part of Egypt’s counter-terrorism strategy, the ministry itself has suggested that the content it is interested in monitoring may be less circumscribed; in a press release describing the program when it was first announced, the ministry claimed it was interested only in monitoring political activity, while including under that category everything from “sarcasm” to “looseness and lack of morality” to “spreading hoaxes and claims of miracles.”

The potential for the targeting of innocent citizens, especially gender minorities, has been made apparent through the detention of at least 95 Egyptians for their social media activity, a number rights groups estimate to be significantly higher.

For its part, the Interior Ministry has maintained an ambiguous stance regarding the scope of the program, with an official statement from the ministry just a week ago claiming that “rumors” suggesting the ministry was monitoring private social media accounts were “spread by Brotherhood elements.”


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