What started out as a call by an Egyptian member of parliament, has now reached the Ministry of Telecommunications taking its initial steps to block Internet pornography in the country, local daily, Egypt Independent reports.
According to the newspaper, Minister of Telecommunications and Information Technology Mohamed Salem announced that the National Telecommunications Regulation Authority (NTRA) is forming a committee to tackle to methods in which the censorship will be implemented. The committee will also reportedly consist of members of parliament.
Speaking about the plan to go ahead with the block, Salem said, “The issue is becoming persistent and worrying to families,” echoing statements made by conservative MP, Dr. Younis Makhioun last month.
At the time, Makhioun said in an interview [Arabic] that access to pornography has had a negative effect on families, and has even led to divorce and rape.
Makhioun and Salem are not the only supporters for the ban of Internet pornography, with the parliamentary committee for Transportation and Telecommunications asking not only that access to these sites be blocked, but are also pushing for legislation that will allow for the punishment of ISPs that don’t comply with the ban.
Salem, estimating the number of adult websites to be in the millions, added that there are tech companies which issue software to block these sites for underage users. He did not, however, reveal the names of these companies, or if the government was in talks to purchase software.
Several ISPs already offer customers the option to block their own personal access to offensive content, including Egypt’s largest ISP, TEData, with its ‘Family Internet service’, which allows users to block “indecent content”.
However, it appears highly likely that the choice will no longer be left up to Egyptian Internet users.
A similar attempt to block pornography in Tunisia was thrown out of court, with its vocal critics expressing concern over the potential slippery slope they could find themselves on, where any content deemed offensive by the government could be blocked, on the pretext that it contradicts the country’s moral or political values.
Egypt is currently listed on Reporters without Borders latest report as being ‘under surveillance’ as a potential enemy of the Internet.