Vodafone: Egypt Forced Us to Send Pro-Mubarak Text Messages

Just because the Egyptian government restored cell phone service doesn't mean they are allowing a free flow of information among citizens.

In fact, Egypt's largest cell phone service provider, Vodafone, said today that Egyptian authorities have forced the company to text pro-government, pro-Mubarak messages across its network.

Photographs of the text messages, which are written in Arabic, have been uploaded to websites like Twitter and Flickr. Translated, one of them appears to say, "The Armed Forces asks Egypt's honest and loyal men to confront the traitors and criminals and protect our people and honor our precious Egypt."

Another appeals directly to the younger protesters on the very devices many of them used to coordinate their demonstrations. It reads, "Youth of Egypt, beware rumors and listen to the sound of reason -- Egypt is above all so preserve it."

Vodafone, a British company, has defended itself against claims it is taking a side, explaining they are following the rules, for better or worse.

"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."

Their statement continues, "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."