More than 1,000 Facebook pages were closed in 2016 for “inciting violence against police and army officers , calling for [protest] marches and obstructing roads,” Ali Abaza, the head of the interior ministry’s cyber crimes department, told MENA state news agency on Saturday.
“[In 2016, police] arrested 2,372 people in cases of insulting [others], 1,623 slander cases, 193 fraud cases and 77 cases of hacking private accounts,” Abaza said.
“The latest [hacking case] involved the arrest of someone in Sharqiya governorate who hacked 360 computers, stealing photos and videos [with the aim of blackmail].”
Abaza also stressed that “the interior ministry respects human rights,” explaining that the ministry does not monitor the private communications of citizens, only publicly accessible pages.
“We do not spy on citizens, we obtain warrants from the prosecution in accordance with the law to track criminal or terrorist activities,” Abaza concluded.
In September 2014, the interior ministry began a social media surveillance programme to track security threats such as terrorism.
The interior minister said at the time that the programme aims “to follow increasing security problems such as terrorism and explosives manufacturing, as well as analyse and identify destructive ideas and conduct opinion polls to gauge their influence on youth.”
A controversial cybercrime draft law was submitted to parliament earlier this year, but it has not been passed yet.