Egypt may have just become the next China, or worse. If you follow the history of this ancient land, it may not come as a surprise to learn that free speech is not what the Egyptian government tolerates. Although the internet used to seem like a safe platform all over the world to share ideas freely without any consequences, nowadays it is the hottest field in certain countries. Egypt just upped their game with a new anti-cybercrime law. So now, there’s a risk that you may get sentenced to jail if you dare to access censored websites, for example, by using VPN software.
Anti-cybercrime law to risk VPN use
As the next step towards a stricter internet censorship, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi, the President of Egypt ratified the new anti-cybercrime law on 18 August 2018. Which can bring about the end of the already limited freedom of speech in the land of the Pharaohs.
In all fairness, we must mention that there are two sides to this coin. The official story behind this law is obviously worded in a way that it feels totally understandable and acceptable. The keyword you may hear about the anti-cybercrime law are: national security threat.
This new law essentially enables the Egyptian government to consider websites as possible threats to national security and block them from its citizens. But that is not all. If you are caught accessing such blocked content via alternative ways, such as VPN services, you could be fined around $5,600 or, even worse, sentenced to 1 year in jail. Sounds scary enough?
If you are caught accessing blocked content you could be fined around $5,600 or sentenced to 1 year in jail.
Of course, we are not questioning the legal and well-deserved actions against hacking government information systems or terror activities. Our worry is simply based on the dark potentials of misusing such laws.
A recent history of Egypt and online freedom
Somehow, power-drunk regimes do not like the idea of self-expression unless it is their own selves and ideas being expressed or imposed on the masses. It is not the first time, of course, that the Egyptian government has tried to expand its surveillance capabilities.
In 2015, Egypt blocked Free Basics, a special internet service by Facebook Inc., which is present in 37 countries around the world. This free internet service offers users with low income and cheap internet-enabled devices to create a Facebook account and use a limited number of internet services for free. Within two months of its launch in Egypt, the government suspended the service.
Rumor has it, the reason behind blocking Free Basics was that Facebook refused to cooperate with the Egyptian government to let them use the free internet service to snoop on unsuspecting citizens. How noble of Facebook; though, spying on people may not be that far from this social media mogul.
In a country where people with Coptic Christian faith fear for their lives – due to centuries-long persecution – and political activism is on the rise, it is only a question of time when the government starts to hunt down those who dare to open their mouth against the system or the aforementioned atrocities.
Accounts with more than 5,000 followers will be regulated and treated like media outlets.
As a matter of fact, this time already came with the passing of the new social media law in July 2018 preceding the anti-cybercrime law. According to this social media law, accounts with more than 5,000 followers will be regulated and treated like media outlets. But even that didn’t prove to be enough or strict enough.
It is quite possible that as a consequence part of VPN users will stop using this privacy software to unblock restricted or censored websites. However, the introduction of this Draconian law may also result in a growth in the use of top-notch premium VPN services that can guarantee a high level of online privacy and security not to get caught by the authorities.
To feel safe and free to use a VPN in Egypt, it is vital that your VPN provider has true and strict no logs policy. In other words, it is important that your provider would not be based in a surveillance-friendly country and that it would not collect any usage and connections logs. This is the only way for you to make sure that nobody can link you to visiting censored websites.
Even though your ISP and prying eyes may still be able to see that you are using a VPN, they will not be able to tell which websites you have accessed. Therefore, you cannot be fined or sentenced to jail, right? These 10 best no logs VPN providers will keep your privacy tight so no one can figure out what you are doing on the web.
If you want to be completely sure that not only your website visits are hidden from the government but also the fact that you’re using a VPN, you’d better use a VPN service that offers obfuscation or stealth VPN as a privacy feature. These amazing functions can help you appear to be doing normal browsing instead of raising suspicion by using VPN tunnels to access websites.
ExpressVPN, NordVPN, and TorGuard are some of the top VPN providers that can obfuscate your web traffic and also have strict zero logs policies. Please keep in mind that more security comes with a price tag since your download and upload speeds may suffer. Still, better than going to jail or paying thousands of dollars. Do you agree?
Of course, we are not trying to tell you to do anything illegal. We are here to simply inform you of the possibilities you may be left with if your online privacy and security is a concern while living in or traveling to Egypt. Anonymity could be vital for political activists, journalists, and those who believe in basic civil rights. Make sure you are safe.