Ranked 161 on 180 countries in Reporters Without Borders’ (RSF) 2018 World Press Freedom Index, and 163 in the 2019 ranking, contemporary Egypt is characterized by a rapid deterioration in press freedom subject to censorship and state control.
In its 2019 edition of the World Press Freedom Index, Reporters Without Borders describes the situation of press freedom in Egypt as a cause of concern under current President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. RSF goes as far as saying that the country is one of the world’s biggest prisons for journalists, arguing that some of them spend years in prison without being charged or tried.
On the subject of media ownership, RSF claims that the Egyptian government is controlling the media more and more through private ownership. In this respect, the Media Ownership Monitor launched by RSF in Egypt is highly informative. The survey of structures, relationships and key actors that control the Egyptian media not only reveals the state’s presence in broadcasting but also denounces the intervention of the security and intelligence services.
Egypt adopts a law allowing close monitoring of social networks
Under the new law, the Higher Council for Media Regulation may block accounts and sites through a judge’s decision, any website whose content constitutes “a threat to national security” or “the national economy”. Besides, web surfers viewing banned pages incur fines and jail time.
In fact, according to the new law, anyone who deliberately or by mistake, and without good reason, accesses a site, a private account or a computer system whose access is forbidden may be subject to a one-year prison sentence and a fine of 50 000 to 100 000 Egyptian pounds (about 2,440 to 4,885 euros).
More than 500 news or NGOs sites are currently stranded in Egypt, according to the Cairo-based Association for Freedom of Thought and Expression.