Egypt president approves law clamping down on social media

193

CAIRO, Sept 2, 2018 (BSS/AFP) – Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has
ratified a law granting authorities the right to monitor social media users
in the country as part of tightening internet controls, the official gazette
said Saturday.

Approved by parliament in July, the state’s Supreme Council for Media
Regulations will have the power to place people with more than 5,000
followers — on social media or with a personal blog or website — under
supervision.

The council will be authorised to suspend or block any personal account
which “publishes or broadcasts fake news or anything (information) inciting
violating the law, violence or hatred”.

The new law is one of a series of measures that rights groups say are aimed
at curbing freedom of expression online, with the internet one of the last
forums for public debate over Sisi’s rule.

In August, the president signed off on another piece of legislation
allowing authorities, through a judge, to order the blocking of websites that
“constitute a threat” to Egypt’s national security or economy.

Those who administer or visit such websites, intentionally or “in error
without a valid reason”, can now face jail time and fines.

The authorities have insisted that such measures are needed to help tackle
instability and terrorism in the country.

But domestic and international rights activists regularly accuse the
government of seeking to crush dissent by arresting critics and bloggers and
blocking news sites.

More than 500 websites have already been blocked in Egypt prior to the new
law, according to the Cairo-based Association of Freedom of Thought and
Expression.

image_printPrint