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Egypt: Governmental Decision to Block Skype using USB Modem

Categories: Regulation, Egypt

skype-usbIt looks like the Egyptian Government attempts to control the cyberspace and netizens are moving forward. Although, Egypt didn’t witness many attempts to block websites and online services, the government follows different ways to keep an eye on what’s happening online, beside harassing bloggers and netizens.

Two days ago, citizens in Egypt using USB Modem to connect to the internet weren’t able to use Skype [1], a free software program that allows you to make voice calls over the internet (VoIP). At the beginning they thought there is a kind of internet connection issue, and when they started calling the mobile telecommunication companies they were informed that Skype is no more allowed to be used through USB Modem.

Today, I called the customer service section at Vodafone [2] company, and I was informed there is a decision issued two days ago by the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority [3] to block Skype from being used via USB Modem, based on complaints by the three mobile telecommunication companies in Egypt, for facing financial loss because citizens are making phone calls online with low price.

The decision might look to be based on economical reasons, but for me the three mobile telecommunication companies in Egypt had enough time to block websites and serices before announcing their USB Modem devices. Moreover, the companies didn’t officially inform their clients or clarify the decision.

I am really concerned about this weird decision and hope it won’t be a new phase for the government to block websites or services through the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority for “financial reasons”!

“The ban is on Skype on mobile internet, not on fixed, and this is due to the fact it is against the law since it bypasses the legal gateway,” said Amr Badawy, the executive president of the NTRA to Reuters [4] on Tuesday 16 March.