Egypt: New Regulations to Monitor bulk SMS Content

The Egyptian National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) decided to set a new regulation in Egypt on 11 October forcing all companies sending mass short text messages (SMS) to mobile phones to obtain a license from national bodies as well as getting an approval on the content of the message before sending it from special personages, whom will be appointed to monitor SMS services.

According to Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper, companies providing SMS service must now obtain approval from the Ministry of Information and the Supreme Press Council before sending out to subscribers.

Few days later, The Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), local rights group, issued a case against the NTRA to rescind the new regulation.

Mahmoud el-Gweini, adviser to the Egyptian telecommunication minister, told The Associated Press that the decision “was not meant to curb political activity“, while one of the SMS provider companies told [AR] AFTE that companies are still allowed to provide the service as long as the SMS content isn’t political, otherwise the company won’t be allowed to provide the service.

The new regulating is shaping a new border on the free flow of information and right to information in Egypt, since several groups including political parties and newspapers are using SMS services to spread information and disseminate news.

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