Govt source denies intention to cut internet, phone services

Egyptian authorities do not intend to cut off internet and communication services for protesters in downtown Cairo or anywhere else, a senior government source said on Monday.

Egyptian activists had circulated news on the internet about authorities' intention to cut communication services. This measure was adopted during the January uprising which toppled former President Hosni Mubarak, as authorities hoped to curb the increase in protester numbers.

The source, who asked not to be named, told Al-Masry Al-Youm that internet providers have not received any such orders.

"I think no one in Egypt has the guts to repeat that," an official at an ADSL company told the newspaper, saying that during the January revolution, the move was counter-productive.

Experts explained that the communication regulation law issued in 2003 permits authorities to control cell phone and internet companies when they believe there is a danger to national security. The law fails to define such situations.

In late January, when the Egyptian revolution broke out, the security apparatus relied on the law to block communication services — first social networking sites, BlackBerry and Messenger, and eventually internet and cell phone services completely. Activists fear the same could happen now.

The Ministry of Communication and Information Technology earlier announced amendments to the law, which would give the country's president exclusive powers to order the communication blackout after government approval. But the changes have not yet been approved, according to an official at the National Telecommunications Regulation Authority (NTRA).

NTRA sources said it is only responsible for implementing the amendments and that their approval is up to the ruling Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF).

Translated from the Arabic Edition

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