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7 Nov 2022

Ruth Michaelson, The Guardian

Egypt: Wifi at COP27 conference centre blocks human rights and key news websites

"Cop27 wifi in Egypt blocks human rights and key news websites", 7 November 2022

Attendees at the Cop27 climate meeting have found that the conference internet connection blocks access to the global rights organisation Human Rights Watch (HRW) as well as other key news websites needed for information during the talks...

Observers and conference attendees fear the blockages at Cop27 are part of the Egyptian authorities’ efforts to separate vital climate negotiations from human rights issues, controlling what participants in the remote resort of Sharm el-Sheikh can see about Egypt’s decades-long record of cracking down on human rights and limiting their understanding of the country where the talks are taking place.

Egyptian telecoms providers temporarily lifted a ban on voice over internet protocol (VoIP) calls at Cop27, such as WhatsApp calling. Yet the authorities left in place a sophisticated and broad system for blocking websites deemed critical of the Egyptian authorities, including independent media and human rights organisations...

The number of blocked sites has mushroomed since Egypt began blocking independent news sites in 2017, beginning with Mada Masr and Al Jazeera, which the Egyptian authorities have targeted frequently since 2013 including a high-profile trial of Al Jazeera journalists.

By September 2020, the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information and Mada Masr reported that 628 sites were blocked in Egypt, including 116 news sites, 15 dealing with human rights issues, 27 political criticism sites and 349 sites that allow users to download virtual private network services (VPNs), which are also banned in Egypt, and therefore prevent internet users from subverting the website ban...

Part of the following timelines

COP27: Pressure is on for human rights to be central to this year's UN climate summit

COP27: Pressure is on for human rights to be central to this year's UN climate summit