Egypt was a fairly stable North African quasi-democracy before the wave of the 2011 “Arab Spring” hit it with all its might – by displacing the known, highly imperfect order led by President Hosni Mubarak – with that of the Muslim Brotherhood regime – another highly imperfect, plus largely unknown entity.
But it soon became clear where the Muslim Brotherhood’s bread was buttered – it was backed by the US regime of the time, led by Democrats – and it imposed control of Egypt by a new leader, Mohamed Morsi.
But in the meantime, Egypt proved too defiant, too resilient – or simply too big – as your point of view may be – and the political tide somehow turned within the country, in rather record time. So instead of the Muslim Brotherhood’s regime – in 2014 there was another one, established by Abdel Fattah el-Sisi.
The Intercept, a US-based investigative website, is looking at Google’s role in the latest Egypt developments – and choosing 2014 as the starting year and context for its story.
The report said that Google is now effectively returning to Egypt after “a dormant” period since 2014. The return is evident in Google providing local jobs, i.e., restaffing its office in Cairo.
The Intercept said this was problematic in the context of well-documented cases of mass internet surveillance targeting citizens and activists by the Sisi regime.
The report cites anonymous sources who said the Google office would reopen this September, with a focus on customer sales.
The article mentions previous interference in Egypt’s internal politics by Big Tech companies – namely, when in 2011, “a viral Facebook page co-run by then-Google executive Wael Ghonim helped fuel the 18 days of protests that overthrew President Hosni Mubarak, leading Google’s then-CEO Eric Schmidt to opine at the time that platforms like Facebook ‘change the power dynamics between governments and citizens’.”
The Intercept writes that ever since 2014, Egypt has been cracking down on dissidents and stepping up mass and targeted surveillance.
In 2016 and 2017, a group of prominent Egyptian nonprofit organizations got hit with “a sophisticated phishing attack while they were defending themselves against state charges that they were receiving foreign funding to destabilize the government,” the article said.
It added that the Egyptian Initiative for Personal Rights – a non-governmental organization (NGO) – “strongly suggested that the attack, which included attacks on Gmail accounts, was coordinated or supported by an Egyptian intelligence agency.”
An international NGO, Amnesty International, soon followed up to identify “a new wave of phishing attacks following a similar pattern earlier this year.”
In the article, the Intercept also linked its report to another one of its revelations – namely, that Google allegedly planned to develop a censored search engine for use in China, code-named “Dragonfly.”