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[tor-talk] New Report: The State of Internet Censorship in Egypt


Today OONI and Egypt's AFTE published a joint research report on the
state of internet censorship in Egypt.

* Full report in English:

* Full report in Arabic:

* Summary of the report in English:
https://ooni.io/post/egypt-internet-censorship/ &

* Summary of the report in Arabic:

You may remember that AFTE previously reported on hundreds of websites
being blocked in Egypt.

OONI and AFTE have now joined forces. We conducted a comprehensive study
based on the analysis of OONI Probe measurements collected from multiple
local vantage points over the last year and a half.

More than 1,000 URLs presented signs of network interference, 178 of
which seem to most likely have been consistently blocked throughout the
testing period. The majority of these URLs include media websites, human
rights sites, circumvention tools and sites expressing political criticism.

More than 100 URLs that belong to media organizations were blocked, even
though Egyptian authorities have only officially ordered the blocking of
21 news websites. AFTE interviewed journalists working with Egyptian
media organizations whose websites got blocked to examine the impact of
censorship. Many Egyptian journalists reported that the censorship has
had a severe impact on their work and that some media organizations have
been forced to suspend their operations entirely as a result of
persisting internet censorship.

Egyptian ISPs primarily block sites through the use of Deep Packet
Inspection (DPI) technology that resets connections. In some cases,
instead of RST injection, ISPs drop packets, suggesting a variance in
filtering rules. In other cases, ISPs interfere with the SSL encrypted
traffic between Cloudflare's Point-of-Presence in Cairo and the backend
servers of sites (pshiphon.ca, purevpn.com and ultrasawt.com) hosted
outside of Egypt.

Egyptian ISPs also appear to apply "defense in depth" tactics for
network filtering by adding extra layers of censorship, making
circumvention harder. This is suggested by the blocking of Egypt's
Freedom and Justice Party's (FJP) site, which was blocked by two
different middleboxes, as well as by the blocking of numerous
circumvention tools.

Apart from pervasive levels of internet censorship, Egyptian ISPs were
found to hijack unencrypted HTTP connections and inject redirects to ads
and cryptocurrency mining scripts. We first detected this back in 2016,
when we reported that state-owned Telecom Egypt was hijacking
unencrypted connections to porn sites and redirecting them to ads. The
Citizen Lab significantly expanded upon this research in their latest
Sandvine report. Now, following the analysis of thousands of
measurements collected from the last year and a half, we have enough
evidence to believe that (many) Egyptian ISPs are carrying out an ad
campaign. The affected sites are diverse, including the sites of the
Palestinian Prisoner Society, the Women's Initiative for Gender Justice,
as well as a number of LGBTQI and Israeli sites. Even the sites of the
UN were affected by this ad campaign!

We will continue to monitor internet censorship in Egypt and around the
world. We therefore welcome any feedback you may have.

Thanks for reading!

All the best,


Maria Xynou
Research and Partnerships Coordinator
Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI)
PGP Key Fingerprint: 2DC8 AFB6 CA11 B552 1081 FBDE 2131 B3BE 70CA 417E

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