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Egypt readies Anti-Cybercrime law

Egypt readies Anti-Cybercrime law

Egypt's government is on the verge of implementing the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Draft Law, new legislation that mandates the creation of a committee to manage ISPs, reinforce cyber security and control the use of social media.

The draft law has been ratified by parliament's Communications and IT Committee, but still requires that MPs vote in favour in order to be enacted.

If passed, the new law will establish a committee within the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to work with ISPs and set up a locally hosted social media network to regulate content.

Moreover, ISPs will be forced to provide authorities with information on users "suspected of spreading terrorist and extremist ideologies via the internet."

It will also be illegal for locals under the age of 18 and/or those without a valid identification to own social media accounts.

Under Article 5 of the proposed law, individuals that violate the privacy of others by operating a fake account or deliberately hacking another person's social media account will incur a one-year jail sentence and fine set between LE50,000 (US$3,000) and LE100,000 (about US$6,000).

Kamal Amer, head of the Parliament's Defense and National Security Committee said, "The new law would help combat the growing danger of extremist and militant Islamist movements that use the internet and modern technology to carry out terrorist attacks. The new law would also supplement the army's comprehensive campaign against militant and terrorist groups in North Sinai."

However, detractors believe the legislation impedes on freedom, will enhance state control over websites and intimidates social media users.

Fuad Abdelnaby, professor of constitutional law at Menoufia University said the law contains loosely defined terms and vague content that makes it easy to convict any person of "threatening national security," "damaging family values," or "affecting public morals" without giving a clear definition of these offenses.

Tax on social media ads

In a related development, the Parliament's Media, Culture and Monuments Committee has approved taxation on foreign social media sites, including Facebook and Google, for any local advertising.

This is to ensure the country benefits from the digital space, according to authorities.

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