Interior Ministry denies monitoring Internet activity

The media center of the Ministry of Interior denied news circulated by a number of websites on Thursday about a contract between the Ministry of the Interior and a company to monitor Internet activities and social networking websites in Egypt.
"This news is completely false," the center added in a statement, Al-Masry Al-Youm reports.
The statement appealed to the media to check with the ministry before circulating such news, especially during the current stage where Egypt is facing challenges that aim to shake people's trust in the Interior Ministry, according to the statement.
The online publication BuzzFeed reported the story earlier, having spoken to an anonymous Interior Ministry official as well as the Ali Miniesy, the CEO of See Egypt, the Internet security company who contracted with the government to provide the online tracking services, similar to those in Western countries.
See Egypt's program can sift through large amounts of data from Facebook, Twitter, email accounts and other online information to identify any individuals as potential threats to the government. “The program, the training we give, can also be used to penetrate WhatsApp, Viber, Skype, or other programs if needed,” Miniesy told BuzzFeed.

The Interior Ministry had made previous statements it was monitoring the Internet, but assured the public it had no need to fear the monitoring. “Who says we are monitoring your private life? We are monitoring political issues, we need to watch electronic crimes,” said Gen. Hany Abd el Lateef, spokesman for the ministry.

In previous statements, the Interior Ministry has already made clear they plan to track down Islamists, homosexuals and any others who do not reflect the Egyptian mainstream societal views. The ministry has released a more detailed list of offenses they plan to monitor on social media websites:

Blasphemy and skepticism in religions; regional, religious, racial, and class divisions; spreading of rumors and intentional twisting of facts; throwing accusations; libel; sarcasm; using inappropriate words; calling for the departure of societal pillars; encouraging extremism, violence and dissent; inviting demonstrations, sit-ins and illegal strikes; pornography, looseness, and lack of morality; educating methods of making explosives and assault, chaos and riot tactics; calling for normalizing relations with enemies and circumventing the state’s strategy in this regard; fishing for honest mistakes, hunting flesh; taking statements out of context; and spreading hoaxes and claims of miracles.

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