Instagram and other social media apps - Photo courtesy of Jason Howie - Flickr
CAIRO – 5 June 2018: A member of the Parliament submitted a new draft law to regulate social media in Egypt for its consequences on the national security and the private lives of citizens.
“The security of information is an integral part of the system of national economy and security. The state commits to taking the necessary measures to preserve it in the manner dictated by law,” according to Article 31 of the Constitution as referred in the explanatory note of the draft law.
The draft law includes six articles; Article 1 reads that the internet service providers shall be committed to set up social networks in Egypt, in coordination with the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA).
“A committee shall be formed at the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) to supervise, review and monitor internet service providers in Egypt,” according to Article 2.
Under Article 3, it is not allowed to have an account on social media except through the national identity of the user provided that he/she is not under the age of 18.
Article 5 refers that whoever forms a fake account or deliberately hacks another account violating the privacy of others shall be punished with at least a year in prison and a fine not less than LE 50,000 and not more than LE 100,000.
Among the other attempts to regulate social media, the Parliament enacted on June 5 an anti-cybercrime law aiming at combating the illegal use of computers and information networks.
The Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law defines commonly used concepts such as “websites, traffic data, digital directory, personal statements and national security”.
The law regulates Internet Service Providers’ (ISPs) activities and their obligation to provide national security authorities with information on users suspected of spreading terrorist and extremist ideologies via the internet. It also aims at securing personal data of internet users.
Accordingly, Article 18 offers punishment of not less than one month in prison or a fine of not less than LE 50,000 ($2,800) and not more than LE 100,000 for anyone who breaches or harms someone’s personal email account or website.
Parliament also approved Article 9 of the cybercrime law, allowing the Attorney General or specialized investigative authorities to impose travel bans on persons charged of committing or attempting to commit cybercrimes, if enough evidence against them exists.
On October 30, 2017, 60 MPs had submitted a proposal to the Parliament to adopt a new law protecting personal data, as previously Egypt did not have a law to regulate personal data protection.
Since then, Egypt’s Parliament has undergone discussions to review and amend the proposed Data Protection Draft Law in the presence of interior, foreign and defense ministers to submit it to the General Committee of the Parliament for the initial approval.
The draft law aims to be committed to Article 57 of the Egyptian constitution, stipulating that citizens’ private lives should be safeguarded; and postal, telegraph, e-correspondence, telephone calls and any other means of communication should not be examined by any entity without the prior approval of their owners, except in the case of a judicial order.
This target will be achieved under the draft law through establishing a body to protect personal data on ethnicity, political ideology, children, health, religion, marital status and crimes, by criminalizing personal data processing.
To avoid the processing of personal data without consent, the law determines the way information technology, commercial and communication companies deal with personal data by obligating them to obtain prior consent from the intended recipients before dealing with their data.
Across the world, laws are being drawn up and refined to protect personal data in the marketing and social media companies.
In the United Kingdom, UK data protection laws were drafted under Digital Minister Matt Hancock in August 2017. According to data protection laws in the UK, citizens could oblige social media to remove their personal data or withdraw their consent for their personal data to be used. If firms violate these laws, they will face massive fines.
UK will apply the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that will come into effect on May 25, 2018, introducing new requirements for how organizations would process personal data.