G8 Should Seek Guarantees for Internet Freedom in Aid Package for Egypt and Tunisia
New York, N.Y. — The G8 Summit that will convene in Deauville, France on Thursday May 26 is set to roll out a substantial economic assistance package to support democratic transition in Egypt and Tunisia. The President of the World Bank, Robert Zoellick, has announced that $6 billion of new aid, $4.5 billion for Egypt and $1.5 billion for Tunisia, will be conditioned on “market friendly reforms.” “The Facebook Revolution will fall short if Egyptians and Tunisians don’t secure freedom online,” said Neil Hicks of Human Rights First. “One vital area of reform that the G8 should specifically link to economic assistance for Egypt and Tunisia is securing assurances for Internet freedom based on a transparent, law-based regulatory framework for the ICT sector. A new framework must have open market access and greater diversity of ownership making it less susceptible to the type of catastrophic shut down of service experienced in Egypt in January. A new framework must also provide appropriate privacy protections for users.” added Hicks. The release of files from State Security records in Egypt revealed that the authorities had carried out widespread, unfettered surveillance over the online and telephonic communications of opposition activists and human rights defenders.