Egypt's telecom regulator says YouTube ban not viable

The regulator is challenging a court ordered 30-day ban on YouTube that was triggered by religiously offensive content on the website

Egypt's telecom regulator says it is not viable for it to follow a court order to block YouTube in the country, and is appealing the ruling.

The order banning YouTube and some other websites for 30 days was issued by a Cairo court after it was brought to its notice that there was a proliferation of links to clips of the controversial "Innocence of Muslims" video, which is said to portray the Prophet Muhammad in a derogatory manner.

The country's Ministry of Information Technology and Communications and the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority decided after a meeting that to block YouTube would technically affect the use of Google search in Egypt with economic consequences to the country, according to a ministry statement.

Google blocked access to the video on YouTube last year in some countries including Egypt and Libya, following protests in many countries and violence at a U.S. diplomatic post in Benghazi, Libya, that was thought at the time to be linked to protests against the video. The Internet company said at the time that the video did not violate its community guidelines, but given the difficult situation in Libya and Egypt, it had temporarily restricted access in both countries. Google later also restricted access to the video in some other countries including India. Some countries blocked the video on their own initiative.

The NTRA has previously resisted a court order to block pornographic content in Egypt. After a court ruling in 2009 on this issue, NTRA said it had asked Internet service providers in Egypt to block the porn sites, but this was not found technically feasible.

"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," NTRA said last year. It instead proposed engagement with civil society and offering software that people can use to filter pornographic content from their computers.

"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," NTRA said.

It appears that YouTube's willingness to make an exception to Google's policies and censor the video in Egypt did not go far enough for the Cairo Administrative Court, said civil rights groups Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights and Electronic Frontier Foundation. The groups also criticized Google's decision last year to block access to the video on YouTube in Egypt. "If YouTube was hoping that a little temporary censorship on a volunteer basis would save it from a nation-wide ban on their entire website, it has miscalculated badly," the groups said in a statement.

The proposed ban on YouTube has also been criticized by the U.S. "It's actually not quite clear to us at this moment how and whether that's going to be enforced across Egypt," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said during a daily briefing on Monday. "But as a general matter, you know that we reject censorship as a response to offensive speech."

Google did not immediately comment.

John Ribeiro covers outsourcing and general technology breaking news from India for The IDG News Service. Follow John on Twitter at @Johnribeiro. John's e-mail address is john_ribeiro@idg.com

Join the Good Gear Guide newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags Internet-based applications and servicesno companyregulationlegalgovernmentinternet

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

John Ribeiro

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?