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Egypt unfriended Facebook for Free Basics snoop snub

Zuck told to Giza the heck out of here

Facebook reportedly had its Free Basics internet service banned in Egypt because it would not meet government demands that it open the service for surveillance.

A Reuters report cited two unnamed sources in claiming that the decision by authorities to suspend Free Basics in the country on December 30 of last year was due to Facebook's resistance to surveillance.

The report says that the social networking giant was given unspecified demands to allow surveillance and, when that was refused, the service was suspended. This despite claims from the Egyptian government that Free Basics was actually suspended because it competed with commercial service providers.

Facebook did not respond to a Reg request for comment on the report.

Egypt has long held tight control over the country's internet, monitoring and censoring traffic.

The Free Basics service allows users access to a limited number of websites and services selected by Facebook. The 38 sites include a number of educational and news sites as well as, of course, the Facebook social network.

While Facebook claims the service allows it to extend internet service into remote and impoverished areas that would otherwise not have internet access, critics say that the walled-garden nature of Free Basics flies in the face of net neutrality provisions and gives Facebook a captive audience in the developing world.

One such opponent is the government of India, who earlier this year banned Free Basics as part of its own net neutrality laws. Facebook boss Mark Zuckerberg has since said he will not attempt to relaunch the service in India and will focus on other markets. ®

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