Egyptian Parliament Approves Controversial Surveillance Bill

Wednesday, 16 January, 2019 - 13:15
Cairo – Mohammad Nabil Helmi

The Egyptian parliament passed a bill requiring shop owners to install surveillance cameras as part of the conditions needed to be met to earn a work permit, in a move hoping it acts as a deterrent to terrorist attacks and crime.

Even though it gained approval, the bill is still up for controversy given that it may encroach on some privacy protection laws.

Surveillance cameras in the streets are an essential element in the work of the security services to mount operations, especially those anti-terrorist in nature.

In the latest operation targeting a church in the Nasr City area of Cairo, about a week ago, surveillance cameras revealed the face of a suspect which planted improvised explosive devices that killed at least one officer.

Egyptian lawmaker Afifi Kamel pointed out that the law should take into account the guarantee of the freedoms provided by the constitution.

Kamel told Asharq Al-Awsat that protecting the privacy of individuals in some shops that require, for example, changing clothes, is an obligation.

“Whilst accounting for security requirements behind monitoring public streets and shops is a vital preventive measure, it is also necessary not to disregard the right to privacy given by the constitution,” Kamel explained.

Over the last two years, Egypt has experienced a series of terror bombings that targeted two churches in the governorates of Alexandria and Tanta, killing more than 40 people, most of them Copts.

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