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Cairo on August 24, 2009

Egypt: the policy of “equitable use of Internet” is a lie
The Ministry of Telecommunications should abandon “the policy of the greedy merchant”

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information (ANHRI) stated today that the Ministry of Telecommunications should abandon the policy of the greedy merchant when dealing with Internet users in Egypt. It also demanded the ministry to be more honest and transparent regarding the reasons behind what it falsely calls “policy of equitable use of the Internet”. The policy adds more financial burdens to the users of the internet. Moreover the ministry announced its abandonment of that policy, but the fact is that it will be applied during the next two months.

Both the Ministry of Telecommunications and the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in cooperation with major internet service providers in Egypt, have put forward a new policy sets limits to the capacity of ADSL services offered to the participants. The services differ based on the kind and value of the subscription, so that people either should pay additional fees in case they exceeded the defined capacity, or accept reducing the speed to 128 kilobits/ second. This happens without providing the users with convincing or logical reasons and despite the tremendous gains of those companies and especially Telecom Egypt the company that is affiliated to the ministry and gained around one billion Egyptian pounds during the first three months of 2009.

According to the Egyptian independent daily “Adostour” on Friday August 21, 2009, The Minister of Telecommunications has approved explicitly the so-called illegal connections; “one internet connection used illegally by many different users”, is not the problem, and it does not pose a significant threat. Adding that; “the expansion in the use of Internet began to cause a big problem”.

Gamal Eid, the Executive Director of the Arabic Network said; “Everyone knows that the enemy of Internet in Egypt is the Interior Ministry, but now the Ministry of Telecommunications adds more burdens to the internet users with being so greedy and accomplice with the companies that provide the internet service. Instead the Ministry should pay attention to develop the infrastructure for telecommunications in Egypt, as it is unable to provide landlines of many citizens, particularly in the richest and poorest areas in Egypt, the first because of the intensity of the lines and the second because of the poor infrastructure, which drives some to people to share one ADSL connection as a solution to receive Internet service”.

The network also stressed that what is claimed by officials of the Ministry of Telecommunications of following the experience of other countries rationalizing the use of the Internet, is false. As most countries in the world seek continued development and expansion in the provision of Internet services to its citizens, having become a life necessities, not a luxury, as perceived by the Minister and his staff.

ANHRI alerts all users and new participants of the importance of reading thoroughly their contracts when they apply to the installation of high-speed Internet “ADSL”. So that they do not sign contracts approving unfair conditions inadvertently, especially since many companies deliberately use vague and elastic words in drafting the contracts, included the approval of a specified loading capacity, can not be exceeded. The network also announces that the legal aid unit for freedom of expression will provide legal support for participants who are directly and arbitrarily affected by these companies, in defense of freedom and justice of internet use t in Egypt.