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EGYPT: Government Enact Law To Regulate Social Media Accounts With 5k followers

By Published July 19, 2018

Egypt’s parliament passed a law giving the government sweeping powers to regulate traditional and social media in a move critics say will boost the Sisi’s government crackdown on free speech and opposition.

The measure puts the regulation of social media platforms, with more than 5,000 followers at par with traditional media like television and newspapers, exposing Twitter and Facebook users to prosecution on vague charges including defaming religion and inciting hatred.

Analysts and rights groups have criticised the adoption of a new law that gives the state powers to block social media accounts and penalise journalists held to be publishing fake news.

“These laws would legalize this mass censorship and step up the assault on the right to freedom of expression in Egypt,” said Najia Bounaim, North Africa campaigns director at Amnesty International, commenting on the law and related legislation ahead of the vote.

The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, headed by an official appointed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will supervise the law and take action against violations.

The bill prohibits the establishment of websites without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council and allows it to suspend or block existing websites, or impose fines on editors.

The law, which takes effect after it was ratified by Sisi, also states that journalists can only film in places that are not prohibited, but does not explain further.

Pro government supporters say the law is intended to safeguard freedom of expression and it was put forward following consultations with judicial experts and journalists. However, critics maintain it only legitimise government’s crackdown on dissent and extend its control over social media.

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