Source: Middle East Times

CAIRO (AFP) An Egyptian NGO on Saturday accused the Egyptian authorities of forcing cyber cafés to gather personal information on Internet users, saying the measure was a violation of privacy.

"The Egyptian government imposed a new measure which increases the extent of censorship on Internet users and violates their right to privacy," the Arabic Network for Human Rights Information said in a statement.

According to the NGO, clients at Internet cafés must provide "their names, email and phone numbers, before they use the Internet."

Once the data is provided, clients will receive a text message on their cell phones and a pin number allowing them to access the Internet, the NGO said.

The rights group called this a "censorship procedure" which it said has "become a widespread reality" in Egypt.

"This severely abusive procedure proves that the security policies aim to impose constraints and censorship on Internet users," it said.

An Egyptian security official told AFP on condition of anonymity that "the measure is not an official one" although he acknowledged that "some cyber cafés have been instructed" to obtain such data from their clients.

Egypt earlier this year arrested bloggers and Internet activists for security reasons, prompting criticism by Amnesty International and calls for their release.

© 2008 Agence France-Presse