Egypt’s Parliament recently approved a draft law submitted by the government to counter cybercrimes; the new act received approval from about a two-thirds majority vote, according to Al-Ahram newspaper.
The law enforces a fine on website or social media account managers who intentionally encourage committing crimes.
“Anyone responsible for operating a website, private account, an email or an information system that encourages committing a crime will face at least one year of imprisonment and a fine between LE 20 thousand and LE 200 thousand,” the law reads.
It also imposes punishments on all those who unintentionally commit or encourage committing a cyber-crime, with at least six months of imprisonment and a fine between LE 10 thousand and LE 100 thousand.
In March, the Parliament’s Communication Committee approved of three articles of the cybercrimes bill, which paved the way for the state blocking hundreds of websites that the government claims threatens the country’s national security.
Article 7 of the law stipulates that the state body assigned to investigate websites allegedly representing a national security threat have the full authority to directly block the websites in question.
However, the law does not clarify which state body is responsible for the task.
Article 7 added that if there is an urgent need to take measures against websites that ‘threatening’ Egypt’s national security, authorities can directly notify the National Apparatus for the Organization of Telecommunications to block it.
The law further stipulates that after the assigned authority has taken the decision to block a website, a court can refuse it.
Article 8 states that administrators of the blocked website can appeal the decision seven days after it has been implemented.
As of May 2017, about 500 websites, including news and human rights sites, have been blocked to the Egyptian public.
Blocked sites include independent news website Mada Masr, the privately owned Daily News Egypt, and Qatari-owned news agencies Al-Jazeera, El-Sharq, Al-Raya and Al-Watan, in addition to the US-based HuffPost Arabic.