Smartphones in Egypt Bring Biting Humor but Also Scrutiny
Earlier this year, I discovered the security services were seeking access to real-time information about
ride-sharing customers — once known inside Uber as “God View” — through the Uber and Careem apps.
The flip side to the smartphone mania is that it also inspires deep paranoia among the police
and some ordinary citizens, known popularly here as “honorable citizens.” I know people who’ve been threatened with arrest for taking a photo of the Suez Canal (after the pyramids, one of Egypt’s most famous features).
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Egyptian officials closely monitor Facebook, Twitter
and other social media sites, and posting an irreverent comment can land a user in court or in jail.
In conflict zones like Libya, where I covered an offensive against the Islamic State
last year, I turn to my BGAN satellite data terminal and a Thuraya satellite phone.
With so many Egyptians in jail, and many others at risk of arrest, encrypted apps like WhatsApp and Signal have become indispensable tools.
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