Africa

Egypt: Court Fines Mubarak and Vodafone for Communications Blackouts

The court ruled that Mubarak, his prime minister and interior minister were all liable for damages to the economy after they ordered a complete shutdown of telecommunications for five days from January 28 2011.


CAIRO—An Egyptian Court has fined former President Hosni Mubarak and his two aides $90 million for cutting Internet and cell phones communications during the Egyptian revolution earlier this year.

The court ruled that Mubarak, his prime minister and interior minister were all liable for damages to the economy after they ordered a complete shutdown of telecommunications for five days from January 28 2011. It also found that three major telecoms companies — Vodafone, Mobinil and Etisalat — had violated the Egyptian Constitution by complying with the request without a proper warrant.

Civil society groups, led by the Association for progressive Communications (APC)  recognise this ruling as an opportunity to set an important precedent not just for national leaders but for Internet intermediaries like Vodafone, and to send a warning that communications disruption as a means to combat civil protest is unlawful. The Egyptian case shows that not only is Internet shutdown ineffective in stifling free speech, it can now also pose significant a serious financial risk for perpetrators.

Published in Exclusive Partnership with Newsfromafrica.org

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