The first Internet Monitor research bulletin summarizes the recent, dramatic increase in Internet censorship in Egypt, examines the Twitter conversation around website blocking in Egypt, and identifies ways that users disseminate banned content.
Internet filtering in Egypt illustrates how censorship can be a slippery slope. After an extended period of open access to the Internet in Egypt lasting several years following the January 2011 revolution, the government dramatically increased its censorship of political content between December 2015 and September 2017. What started with the filtering of one regional news website in 2015 has led to the filtering of over 400 websites by October 2017. The blocked websites include local and regional news and human rights websites, websites based in or affiliated with Qatar, and websites of Internet privacy and circumvention tools. This bulletin examines how Egyptian Internet users have reacted to the pervasive blocking and describes their efforts to counter the censorship. These efforts center on disseminating banned content through platforms protected by encrypted HTTPS connections such as Facebook and Google Drive, which makes individual objectionable URLs challenging for the censors to block.