The Administrative Court rejected Wednesday the lawsuit filed to block social networking website Facebook in Egypt, state media reported.
The plaintiff filed the lawsuit under the pretext that the social network threatens Egyptian security, as it is used to spread rumours that harm the national interest and stability of the country, and incites immoral behaviour.
Lawyer Mahmoud Goueily, who filed the lawsuit, added that membership on Facebook is unregulated and impossible to track, giving the chance for the spread of rumours and false news that target state agencies, and defame authorities.
In the grounds of judgement, the court states that the social networking website is a means of exchanging and spreading information. It further added that any violations committed through the website is dealt with in accordance with the law, by questioning the perpetrators of the violations themselves, without blocking the media channel.
On Tuesday, security agencies in Alexandria arrested two students for running an anti-government Facebook page, which posted calls for protests and content opposing the government, police, army and judiciary. According to the Ministry of Interior, the defendants confessed to charges levelled against them.
Three men were also arrested over activities on Facebook on Saturday. The men, who are accused of spreading “Islamic State” propaganda via the social network, are all from the Upper Egypt governorate of Sohag.
Ramy Raoof, a digital security consultant and researcher, previously told Daily News Egypt that the government and security sector have been developing their tools and abilities over the past few years to practice mass-surveillance and targeted-surveillance.
Legally, the Egyptian government has been preparing the ground to allow for greater surveillance. Prime Minister Ibrahim Mehleb established the High Council for Cyber Security in December 2014, and in February issued a decree to form a committee tasked with considering legislative amendments to national security laws, aiming to give courts the jurisdiction to remove any online content related to terrorism.
Egypt’s new Anti-Terrorism Law sets a minimum prison sentence of five years for individuals who use social media and communication networks to incite terrorist acts. The legislation has come under scrutiny from rights bodies and journalists, who say that it is severe and unduly expands the government’s powers.