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Free Facebook-Backed Internet for Millions of Egyptians Shut Down

A Facebook-sponsored service that offers limited free Internet access was suspended in Egypt on Wednesday after a permit required from the government was not renewed, an official from the Telecommunications Ministry told Reuters.

Facebook's Free Basics service, which aims to provide free access to Facebook and some partner websites in developing countries, was launched in Egypt two months ago by the mobile carrier Etisalat.

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The official, who declined to be named, said Etisalat had only been granted a permit to offer the service for two months and that, when it expired on Wednesday, the service was suspended. The suspension was not related to security concerns, the official said.

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Etisalat said only that it would release a statement on Thursday.

Social media websites such as Facebook played a key organizing role in Egypt's 2011 uprising that toppled longtime autocrat Hosni Mubarak.

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