Sunday, April 24, 2011

Egypt - Government is considering legal changes to remove powers used by Mubarak regime to control networks

[al masry al youm] After a cabinet statement this week explained that Mubarak's regime used Law no. 10 of 2003 to force telecommunications companies to cut off internet and cell phone service during the revolution, the National Telecommunications Regulation Authority (NTRA) said the cabinet has not yet solicited suggestions for the amendment of the law.

Suggestions will be submitted upon the government's request, said NTRA President Amr Badawy in a statement to Al-Masry Al-Youm. Badawy said laws giving the government power over telecommunications providers during emergencies will not likely be abolished because they are needed during war.

Article 67 gives the government power to "subject to their administration all telecommunication services and networks of any operator or service provider and call operation and maintenance employees of such services and networks in case of natural or environmental disasters or during declared periods of general mobilization in accordance with the provisions of Law no. 87 of 1960 or any other cases concerning National Security."

The former regime used this article during the first days of the 25 January revolution when it ordered providers to cut internet and phone services.

Badawy stressed the importance of reviewing the article to identify the mechanisms that allow it to be implemented and the people or agencies who have the authority to use it.

The cabinet pledged last week to review the article during their weekly meeting and criticized the former regime's misuse of the measure during the revolution.

The Egyptian Company for Mobile Services (Mobinil) thanked the cabinet for its statement this week explaining that it was Law no. 10 of 2003 that allows the government to force service cuts.

Hassan Kabbani, managing director of Mobinil, expressed his desire to amend the Telecommunications Regulation Law to ensure the rights of Egyptians are preserved and to prevent another breach.

Badawy said the cabinet is expected to make changes to the NTRA's board of directors within days.

He said several board members would retire by the end of this session.

The NTRA board of directors is headed by the minister of telecommunications and includes representatives from the cabinet, Ministry of Interior, Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information, the presidency and the National Security Agency.

Telecommunication regulation changes in the works following revolution service blackout

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