Egypt Crowdsources Censorship

Egypt's government is asking citizens to report web pages showing blasphemous content.

The Egyptian government is now crowdsourcing censorship efforts. A new web page created by the country's National Telecommunications Registry Agency, allows citizens to report blasphemous websites (Arabic-language links). According to Alix Dunn of tech activism blog the engine room, the site is designed to help find pages showing a controversial anti-Islam film. The film, a low-budget American effort called The Innocence of Muslims, portrays Mohammed in extremely negative ways and sparked violent riots worldwide.

Visitors to the National Telecommunications Registry page are instructed to leave the offending URL on a page with a CAPTCHA link; government bureaucrats then review the page and block it if it leads to blasphemous content. This service follows on the heels of a failed attempt to ban YouTube in Egypt because of numerous uploaded copies of The Innocence of Muslims.

The film itself was directed by an Egyptian-American Christian with previous fraud and methamphetamine arrests; actors in the movie were apparently unaware of what they were being filmed for and anti-Islamic dialogue was overdubbed in post-production. YouTube banned the video in Egypt and Libya earlier this year in response to widespread public outcry in those two countries.

[Image: Flickr user gr33ndata]

Correction: An earlier version of this article reported that the National Telecommunications Registry Agency is part of the Egyptian Ministry of Communications; they are separate entities.

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  • Aaron Foresall

    What is crowdsourcing censorship? Can you say Wikipedia.

    Wikipedia censors work by shouting down those who have factual knowledge of a subject. Tendentious editors with 16 hours or more a day available to spend censoring the encyclopedia "anyone can edit" dominate editorial pages to author or rewrite articles. Those with time to play the Wikipedian game form coalitions, gain political status and control quasi-judicial proceedings that determine overall direction of controversial subjects.