By Randa Darwish
In its latest form of oppression, the Egyptian Parliament approved on Monday a bill giving authorities the power to block socialmedia accounts, blogs or websites that have more than 5,000 followers on any of the social media platforms and held publishing “fake news”.
The law will take effect after being ratified by President Abdel Fattah Sisi. It will allow the Sisi-supervised Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media to monitor and take action against anyone violating the law.
It prohibits establishing websites without obtaining a license from the media administration, allowing the suspension of any websites, blocking or imposing fines for any violation, in addition to stating that journalists can film in specific places without giving any further information.
The law faced harsh criticism by many Egyptians as well as human rights organizations, with few supporters of Sisi claiming it was approved after consulting judicial experts and journalists.
Translation: “A great decision to stop fake news and accounts from spreading.”
Opponents of the approved bill argued that it is another way of Sisi’s regime to control the public opinion, trying to oppress any other opinions that might risk criticizing the government.
Many people blamed the government of the deteriorating human rights status in Egypt during the last few years.
Egypt’s crackdown on media freedom has been escalating lately with authorities blocking hundreds of news websites and blogs including the independent Mada Masr and rights groups like Human Rights Watch.
Meanwhile, dozens of anti-government activists, human rights advocates, lawyers and politicians had been arrested in the last two years for several reasons, with official charges varying between publishing false news or being affiliated to terrorist groups, including the Muslim Brotherhood.
Concern has been rising over the Egyptian authorities abuse carried out against media and journalists, with the use of arbitrary detention and disappearance on the rise.
The latest was activist and blogger Wael Abbas who was arrested mysteriously in the middle of the night before authorities announce he is detained with involvement with an illegal organization and publishing false news.
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