Egyptian Government Forcing Propaganda Over SMS

With protests in Egypt getting uglier by the day, we now know that the government has been forcing Vodafone to send its customers politically-charged text messages. One, translated: "The Armed Forces...will not resort to using force against this great nation."

An Egyptian Vodafone subscriber is posting screenshots of the messages on Flickr and translating them into English. In the above screenshot, the first message reads:

To every mother-father-sister-brother, to every honest citizen preserve this country as the nation is forever.

The second:

The Armed Forces cares for your safety and well being and will not resort to using force against this great nation.

Those messages came simply from "Vodafone." Another, sent to an AP reporter on Sunday, asked "honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honor" and was attributed to "Egypt Lovers." That same reporter apparently received a message yesterday that encouraged him to attend pro-Mubarak rally in Cairo.

In an official statement on their website, Vodafone explains that it's legally obligated to comply with the government's requests, though it claims it has expressed its concerns about sending the messages:

Under the emergency powers provisions of the Telecoms Act, the Egyptian authorities can instruct the mobile networks of Mobinil, Etisalat and Vodafone to send messages to the people of Egypt. They have used this since the start of the protests. These messages are not scripted by any of the mobile network operators and we do not have the ability to respond to the authorities on their content.

Vodafone Group has protested to the authorities that the current situation regarding these messages is unacceptable. We have made clear that all messages should be transparent and clearly attributable to the originator.

Even though Egypt is back online, it's clear that technology is still seen as a vital resource for those on both sides of the conflict. [Flickr via Forbes, WaPo]