Egypt imposes restrictions on news text messages
Cairo: Egypt has imposed new regulations to monitor the news and advertisement text messaging, a move criticised as an attempt to prevent anti-government ideas ahead of November's Parliamentary elections.
The National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA) told companies which provide such services that they must first have authorisation from the the supreme council for journalism and Information Ministry to send SMSs. Meanwhile, sources said the decision was an attempt to prevent anti-regime ideas, meddling with the stock market or
instigating ethnic violence.
An official at the NTRA denied there were political dimensions to these regulations noting that they targeted adjusting the status of 30 companies that operate in Egypt
without a definite legal frame.
Over and above the regulations are meant to abort an agreement the Muslim Brotherhood finalised with one of the sms advertising companies to send out hundreds of thousands of
text messages prior to the parliamentary elections next month. A head of one the service providing companies said that there had been meetings with the NTRA over the past two weeks with a representative of the state security investigations attending.
During these meetings the new regulations were presented to the service providing company managers including censoring the texts and cutting off 3 per cent of the revenues of the company to fund the censors' salaries.
It is worth noting that Egypt had refused to place a ban on the use of the Black Berry texting feature, contrary to many other Arab countries.