A general view taken on January 10, 2016, shows members of Egypt's new Parliament meeting during a session in the capital, Cairo – AFP
CAIRO-15 February 2018: The Cabinet referred Wednesday the draft cybercrime law to Parliament to be discussed, to pose surveillance on social media and limitthe spread of fake news, particularly those that incite violence.
The long-awaited draft cybercrime law was sentto the Parliament to be discussed,as the law has an indispensable role to deal with the rumors that are not easily monitored on social media.
First introduced before the Parliament in May 2016, the 33-article draft law was proposed to criminalize illegal electronic practices, such as electronic fraud and encouraging terrorist practices; however, activists and rights defenders perceive the penalties stipulated by the law as very harsh and would restrict the freedom of expression, according to various news outlets.
The punishments in the draft law range from a month in prison to a death penaltyshould, in the latter case, the cybercrime result in the death of someone or is considered a threat to national security. The law also stipulates other penalties of blocking sites and canceling theirlicenses according to court judgments.
First, Article 11 stipulates the imprisonment of no less than three years and a fine of no less than LE 100,000 for those who establish a website with the aim of promoting a commission of crime,stipulated in the Penal Code or any of the State's special laws.
Meanwhile, "whoever commits any crime mentioned in this act with the aim of harming public order; endangering safety and security or society; endangering the life and security of citizens; preventing authorities from undertaking their duties; suspending the Constitution, laws or regulations; harming national unity or societal peace; defaming a heavenly religion; and assaulting rights and freedoms enshrined by the Constitution could face either life imprisonment or aggravated imprisonment," according to Article 23.
Furthermore, Articles 12 and 13 in the draft law punishinformation technology system managers with three years in prison and a fine of up to LE 200,000 if their information technology system is subject to any crimes mentioned in the draft law, and have not filed a report against it.
Several members in the Parliament called for accelerating the approval of the draft law, as it is deemed essential to combat cybercrime as an Interior Ministry official told the news agency MENA on December2016.He said, “1,045 Facebook pages were shut down in 2016 for inciting violence actions against police and army officers, and calling for marches and blocking roads."
This is a first-of-its-kind draft law proposed in Egypt to criminalize cybercrimes, as internet crimes are regulated by Egypt’s anti-terrorism law, which was issued in late 2013, as well as older legislations, such as the Penal Code and the Communications Law.
Under the draft law, Egyptian authorities can monitor and shut down pages through a court order.