Egypt’s online censorship reaches new heights with plans to criminalize posting weather “misinformation”

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The Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee of the Parliament of Egypt approved draft legislation to give the Egyptian Meteorological Authority (EMA) the authority to fine people for posting “misinformation” about the weather.

(Article by Cindy Harper republished from ReclaimTheNet.org)

Misinformation about the weather would result in a fine of up to and LE 5 million ($161.8,000)

The aim of the law is to reduce the posting of information that may cause harm to the economy. A member of the committee, Emad al-Dargali said that the legislation was approved to improve the quality of meteorological services, encourage research, and attract foreign investments.

According to the Egypt Independent, Dargali said there are pages on social media and news websites that post false information about the weather and spread misinformation on economic issues. He added that the legislation will be put to a vote before the end of the current plenary session.

Former EMA head Ahmed Abdel-Aal said that many non-specialists have been posting meteorological news under various names, and that these non-specialists post false information and rumors that could cause confusion.

Over the past decade, Egypt has undergone significant political turmoil and transformation, which has had a direct impact on the state of internet freedom and censorship in the country.

In recent years, the government has taken steps to regulate and control the flow of information online, which has drawn criticism from human rights organizations and free speech advocates.

The Arab Spring in early 2011 brought the issue of internet censorship to the forefront in Egypt.

As citizens took to the streets to demand political change, the government, under then-President Hosni Mubarak, responded by shutting down the internet and mobile services. This unprecedented internet blackout lasted for five days and marked a turning point in Egypt’s relationship with online censorship.

In 2014, Egypt’s government introduced the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law, which significantly expanded the state’s power to monitor and censor online content. The legislation criminalizes a broad range of activities, including spreading false news, inciting violence, and promoting extremist ideologies. Critics argue that the law’s vague language allows for arbitrary enforcement and poses a threat to freedom of expression.

Egypt witnessed a massive website-blocking campaign in 2017, with the government blocking access to hundreds of websites, including news outlets, human rights organizations, and VPN services.

The campaign was initiated under the pretext of combating terrorism and protecting national security. However, the broad scope of the blocked websites raised concerns about the government’s intentions and the impact on freedom of information.

In 2018, Egypt’s parliament passed the Media Regulation Law, which grants the government the authority to regulate and monitor all forms of media, including social media platforms. The law requires users with more than 5,000 followers to register as media outlets, making them subject to the same regulations and censorship as traditional media. Human rights organizations have criticized the law for further stifling free speech and increasing government control over online content.

Read more at: ReclaimTheNet.org

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