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The Blockage of Pornographic Sites

Cairo: 8/11/2012

With regard to the statement notice sent by the Attorney General Abdel Meguid Mahmoud to the Minister of Communications and Information Technology and NTRA concerning the execution of the Administrative Courtís ruling that rules the blockage of pornographic sites that was issued in 2009 (after he had received reports from an Egyptian citizen in this regard, we would clarify and highlight the following points:

Firstly, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) and the NTRA confirm that they fully respect the provisions of the judiciary rulings and decisions and they acknowledge their commitment to their execution. In fact, Dr. Amr Badawi, the NTRAís Executive President has emphasized the fact that the NTRA has already executed the afore-mentioned ruling of the Administrative Court, as the NTRA would send an official letter to the Attorney General stating proof of its execution of the said ruling.

Secondly, the blockage of pornography sites is an issue that has been globally broached and is very complicated. In fact, the porn sites blockage requires the enumeration and enlisting of those sites that are estimated to amount to millions of sites. After the court had issued its ruling in 2009, the NTRA addressed the ISPs in Egypt asking them to execute the ruling and block the porn sites. Nevertheless, the ISPs expressed their inability to execute the decision and completely block those sites. The ISPs stressed the fact that it would be impossible to make a comprehensive list of these sites which have been produced and broadcast in millions on daily basis. The ISPs had provided the Egyptian families with the latest programs and state-of-the-art software for the purpose of having safe Internet use and safe internet surfing without accessing porn sites as per the available capabilities.

Thirdly, there is a committee that has been already formed of specialized experts from NTRA and members from the dissolved Peopleís Assembly to find out the most appropriate means to block those sites to the maximum extent possible. In addition, there was a dedicated team representing that committee and that had paid a visit to one of the Arab countries that applied software and systems to block these sites to gain their expertise in this area and take advantage thereof in Egypt.

However, the committee members have found out that these countries did not succeed in blocking these sites completely. Although some countries spent millions of pounds to block porn sites, they were not able to do so as the users managed to hack and bypass the blockage of these systems and software, and they managed to access these blocked sites. In addition, the committee will proceed in carrying out its mandate and attain to latest and most convenient available means. It is worth mentioning that the NTRA has, in collaboration with the Transport and Communications Committee (affiliated with the dissolved Peopleís Assembly), exerted all efforts to provide for a legislative milieu and financial allocations needed to execute the court's ruling, and identify the entities competent to and responsible for the blockage of these sites and those responsible for defining pornographic sites and classifying them apart from all other websites.

Fourthly, in fact, there is a great technical and technological difficulty to achieve the full and complete blockage of these sites, which will, at the same time, affect the easy access to business sites and useful information, and reduce the quality and speed of the Internet at large. In addition, the breach of the sites blockage will facilitate the access to those sites which will allow some users to use hacking methods and commit illegal acts to promote hacking software.

Fifthly, the NTRA has been taking, since few years, practical and serious measures in this regard by providing a system (known as, the Internet family) and spreading it through ISPs in Egypt. The users can subscribe to this system without paying any additional fees. Furthermore, this software allows parents to control the usage of the Internet at home and to identify the sites and software that are accessed by young and teen users. In fact, the Internet Family reduces at large the accessibility to pornographic sites. It is worth noting that the NTRA will obligate the ISPs in Egypt to expand the deployment of this software.

Sixthly, the MCIT and NTRA are seeking seriously to protect young people and teens from the danger of accessing pornographic sites. In addition, the NTRA has been collaborating with all the concerned entities and institutions in the government, media, civil society and the private sector to raise the awareness of all segments of society of these dangers that arise from accessing these sites through the deployment of more awareness programs in this regard.

Seventhly, the MCIT and the NTRA have complete confidence in the high ethics of the Egyptian youth and call upon all the parties and organizations that call for the blockage of these sites to make use of their capabilities in communicating with all segments of the Egyptian society in Houses of Worship to make them aware of the dangers of these sites and the sites blockage software and programs and how they can install them on their own PCs. The NTRA is willing to cooperate with all the concerned entities in this regard by providing them with the advertising materials needed to instruct citizens and raise their awareness of this issue.

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