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Opposition website blocked for users of government-controlled ISP as country hosts Africa's largest telecommunications conference

(HRinfo/IFEX) - On 12 May 2008, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information reported that the website of the Egyptian Movement for Change ( http://harakamasria.org ), or Kefaya, has been blocked for those who have Internet access through the T-Data Company. T-Data, the country's largest Internet service provider, has been under direct government oversight since May 4.

Many visitors to the Kefaya website were surprised at their inability to browse the site in the run-up to the 4 May general strike, whether through T-Data or the Link company. While Link later stopped blocking the site, T-Data has continued blocking the site until now, leaving Internet users unable to access it. It is ironic that the time when the website of Egypt's most important political movement is blocked coincides with the hosting of the largest telecommunication conference in Africa, the Africa Telecoms Conference.

Some of HRinfo's technicians attempted to browse the blocked website using different computers and from different locations, but all their attempts were in vain while using T-Data connections. The incident indicates clearly the Egyptian government's return to its practice of blocking Internet sites, which it had earlier abandoned.

Said Samir Gad, editor-in-chief of the Kefaya website, said "The website is performing normally with other ISP companies, but the technical supervisor of the website informed us that the T-Data Co. blocked Kefaya through the IP address."

Mohamed Ragab, director of HRinfo's technical unit, stated: "The decision to block T-Data customers from accessing Kefaya's website is ridiculous and the kind of action not practiced anymore except by the world's most dictatorial governments. Internet users will use a proxy to get around the block or simply transfer their accounts to other companies. The only loser from this decision is T-Data and the Egyptian government."

The Arabic Network for Human Rights Information strongly condemns the decision to block Kefaya's website and calls on the government to correct this violation by unblocking the website and ceasing to harass Internet activists in Egypt.

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