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Egypt one of 10 countries Apple will not offer feature protecting users’ web browsing data

June 10, 2021 at 12:29 pm

Apple brand logo is seen at the official opening of the new Apple Store Via Del Corso, on 27 May 2021, in Rome, Italy. [Antonio Masiello/Getty Images]

Egypt is one of ten countries where Apple Inc will not be offering its new private relay service, a feature which will prevent service providers and advertisers from being able to access a user’s web browser behaviour.

Apple announced the private relay service at its annual software conference on Monday.

The private relay will also not be offered in China, Belarus, Colombia, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkmenistan, Uganda and the Philippines.

One Twitter user wrote, “@Apple Thank you for helping some dictatorships.”

Why Apple has excluded Egypt is not clear yet, Madr Masr said in a Twitter post that Apple has said that it is not offering the service in China for “regulatory reasons”.

In 2018 Apple moved digital keys so that iCloud data for Chinese users could be accessed by authorities through domestic courts.

China is carrying out a massive surveillance operation including on its minority Uyghur population in Xinjiang Province, East Turkestan.

READ: Egypt whistleblower Mohamed Ali calls for Nile Revolution on 10 July

In recent years Egyptian authorities have increased online censorship, blocked websites and targeted human rights advocates and journalists.

Since the 2013 coup Egypt’s police have expanded their surveillance system to monitor social media for calls to protest, strikes and so-called immorality.

In 2020, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi ratified the Personal Data Protection Law which authorities say regulates the collection and processing of personal data of Egyptian citizens and residents.

However, the president, the Ministry of Defence, the interior minister, and the general intelligence service are all exempt from the obligation to protect users’ personal data, according to the digital security website Access Now.

A 2018 Cybercrime Law requires that telecommunications companies and internet service providers store data on their users’ online activities for 180 days, which authorities are allowed to access.

If information is not submitted to government authorities on request this can result in a three-month prison sentence and a 200,000-1 million Egyptian pound fine, roughly $12,000 to $64,000