CLFR - Egypt

Monday, January 8, 2018 - 09:47

PROVISION OF REAL-TIME LAWFUL INTERCEPTION ASSISTANCE

CONSTITUTION OF EGYPT

Article 57 and 58 of the Constitution of Egypt explicitly protect the privacy of communications, prohibiting their surveillance except with a reasoned court order for a specific time, in accordance with the law.

THE EGYPTIAN CRIMINAL CODE (LAW 58 OF 1937) AND THE CRIMINAL PROCEDURES CODE (LAW 150 OF 1950)

According to the Egyptian Criminal Code (Law 58 of 1937) and the Criminal Procedures Code (Law 150 of 1950), a prosecutor or investigative judge may issue a warrant authorizing the interception and recording of individual communications when investigating a possible crime.

Under Article 95 of the Criminal Procedures Code, reasoned warrants from a prosecutor or investigative judge can be issued where they assist in the investigation of any felony or misdemeanor attracting a sentence of over three months, for no more than 30 days and can be renewed once; or by a direct order from an authorized member of the armed forces or security agencies. There are no explicit regulations regarding the latter.

THE COMMUNICATIONS LAW (LAW 10 OF 2003)

The Communications Law (Law 10 of 2003) regulates the communications industry, including law enforcement agencies access to communications and communication infrastructure. It is generally illegal under criminal law to intercept or record private communications except pursuant to a judicial warrant, but the Communications Law allows broad latitude to the armed forces and security agencies to obtain information pursuant to national security concerns, which are not defined.

Article 64 of the Communications Law stipulates that telecom companies must ensure that their communications networks allow the Armed Forces and the various national security agencies to exercise their authorities under the law.

Article 67 of the Communications Law stipulates that all telecommunications operators and providers shall be subject to the direct administration of competent authorities, and their employees to being summoned, during any circumstances relating to national security. Failure to respond to such summons attracts criminal penalties including imprisonment. National security is defined at the discretion of the authorities.

There is no directly applicable text in the law, but in accordance with Articles 64 and 67 of the Communications Law the armed forces and national security agencies have broad latitude to intercept communications with or without an operator’s control or oversight.

DISCLOSURE OF COMMUNICATIONS DATA

THE EGYPTIAN CRIMINAL PROCEDURES CODE (LAW 150 OF 1950)

The Egyptian Criminal Procedures Code gives law enforcement agencies the legal authority to require the disclosure of communications data. Under Article 95 of the Criminal Procedures Code, reasoned warrants from a prosecutor or investigative judge can be issued where they assist in the investigation of any felony or misdemeanor attracting a sentence of over three months, for no more than 30 days and can be renewed once; or the instrument may be a direct order from an authorized member of the armed forces or security agencies. There are no explicit regulations regarding the latter.

NATIONAL SECURITY AND EMERGENCY POWERS

Except as already outlined above, law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies do not have any other legal authority to invoke special powers in relation to access to communication service providers’ customer data and/or network on the grounds of national security or a state of emergency.

The operators providing access to the public electronic communications networks and providing electronic communications services available to the public shall develop and submit to the Authority a plan of measures to ensure the integrity of the public communications networks and to ensure access to their public communications services in extraordinary situations.

The Electronic Communication Law defines extraordinary situations as serious damages to the network, natural disasters, state of emergency or state of war. The Authority’s orders oblige operators to implement emergency measures throughout the duration of the extraordinary situation. The relevant Minister, in cooperation with the other agencies legally authorised to cope with extraordinary situations and with the Authority on Postal and Electronic Communication, propose to the Council of Ministers the measures to be included in the notices issued to the operators.

Additionally, under Law No. 8756, dated 26.3.2001 “On civil emergencies”, government authorities have the right to use any private or public means or to cooperate with organisations related to emergency situations, in order to avoid or limit consequences from disasters in accordance with the applicable laws, as long as such circumstances exist. This provision can be interpreted as to also be extended to a range of actions towards the network of electronic communication operators in national security orders or in civil emergencies.

NATIONAL SECURITY AND EMERGENCY POWERS

Except as already outlined above, law enforcement agencies and intelligence agencies do not have any other legal authority to invoke special powers in relation to access to communication service providers’ customer data and/or network on the grounds of national security or a state of emergency.

The operators providing access to the public electronic communications networks and providing electronic communications services available to the public shall develop and submit to the Authority a plan of measures to ensure the integrity of the public communications networks and to ensure access to their public communications services in extraordinary situations.

The Electronic Communication Law defines extraordinary situations as serious damages to the network, natural disasters, state of emergency or state of war. The Authority’s orders oblige operators to implement emergency measures throughout the duration of the extraordinary situation. The relevant Minister, in cooperation with the other agencies legally authorised to cope with extraordinary situations and with the Authority on Postal and Electronic Communication, propose to the Council of Ministers the measures to be included in the notices issued to the operators.

Additionally, under Law No. 8756, dated 26.3.2001 “On civil emergencies”, government authorities have the right to use any private or public means or to cooperate with organisations related to emergency situations, in order to avoid or limit consequences from disasters in accordance with the applicable laws, as long as such circumstances exist. This provision can be interpreted as to also be extended to a range of actions towards the network of electronic communication operators in national security orders or in civil emergencies.

OVERSIGHT OF THE USE OF THESE POWERS

Applications made pursuant to the Egyptian Criminal Code (Law 58 of 1937) and the Criminal Procedures Code (Law 150 of 1950) requires a warrant to be issued by a judge. When making an application to the court, the standard is that the court should be satisfied that the warrant is needed for a “serious effort” to be made investigating the crime in question.

Anyone claiming violation of privacy or illegal wiretapping can bring a can bring a civil suit for damages or file charges for the use of illegal wiretaps, or seek to have illegally obtained evidence dismissed.

Generally, the armed forces and national security agencies are largely exempt from any control or oversight by the communications regulator, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

CENSORSHIP RELATED POWERS

SHUT-DOWN OF NETWORK AND SERVICES

TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATION LAW NO. 10 OF 2003

Article 67 of the Telecommunications Regulation Law No. 10 of 2003 provides that all telecommunications providers (including Vodafone) are subject to the direct control of the competent government authority, the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (the “NTRA”) in circumstances relating to national security and other major incidents such as natural and environmental disasters or during the declaration of general mobilisation in accordance with the General Mobilisation Law No. 87 of 1960. In such circumstances the NTRA, in coordination with the Armed Forces and the competent authorities, can oblige all telecommunications providers to execute its pre-emptive plan designed for ensuring defence and national security. What constitutes national security is determined by the government. Such control can extend to shutting down a provider’s entire network, or part of their services.

The NTRA has the power to suspend a telecoms provider’s licence in the event that it does not comply with its directions in such circumstances. Telecoms providers have the right to be compensated for damages they suffer as a result of carrying out the plan under Article 68.

BLOCKING OF URLS & IP ADDRESSES

THE CRIMINAL CODE

The Criminal Code contains a number of provisions regarding the dissemination of blasphemous or defamatory material, and may be used to legally require any telecoms provider (including Vodafone) to remove such material insofar as possible.

POWER TO TAKE CONTROL OF VODAFONE’S NETWORK

TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATION LAW NO. 10 OF 2003

Please refer to “Shut-down of network and services”. It is feasible that this legal power could be used by a competent State authority to take control of a network (such as Vodafone’s).

OVERSIGHT OF THE USE OF POWERS

TELECOMMUNICATIONS REGULATION LAW NO. 10 OF 2003

Under Article 69 employees assigned by NTRA, the Armed Forces and National Security Entities may, upon a resolution by the Minister of Justice in coordination with the minister concerned, be considered judicial officers regarding crimes committed in violation of the Telecommunications Regulation Law No. 10 of 2003 as related to their positions’ scope of work. Otherwise there is no judicial oversight of the NTRA’s use of its powers.

This information was originally published in the Legal Annexe to the Vodafone Group Law Enforcement Disclosure Report in June of 2014, which was updated in February of 2015.