Sunday, March 3

Egypt to Combat “False News” By Monitoring Social Media Users

Freedom of Expression may shrink further in Egypt has lawmakers have agreed to the reading of a bill that would monitor popular social media users in the name of combating “false news”.

It is interesting to note that Facebook and Twitter have been the centre of debate in Egypt since November 2013 ban on all but police-approved gatherings.

According to the Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression (AFTE), more than 500 websites have so far been blocked in Egypt. On June 10, parliament has given a nod for the reading of the bill that was pending ratification by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

The bill will place internet users with at least 5,000 followers under the supervision of Egypt’s Supreme Council for Media Regulation. This will enable council the right to suspend or block accounts if they “publish or broadcast false news” or information inciting “breaking the law, violence or hatred”.

Mohamed Abdelsalam, director of research at AFTE said on the recent development, “Every citizen will think 1,000 times before they can write a post in which they criticise the action of the government or the regime.”

While several prominent activists have declined to comment on AFP, Osama Heikal, head of the defence, parliament’s media committee said, “electronic accounts have widespread access, more than some newspapers”.