Egypt’s cybercrime law “legitimises the practice of censorship and surveillance”, Reporters Without Borders has warned.
In a statement issued on Tuesday, RSF condemned the legislation which allows websites to be blocked if it can be proven that they “jeopardise the security of the country”.
“This law just legalizes the Internet censorship that is already practiced in Egypt,” said Sophie Anmuth, the head of RSF’s Middle East desk. “In the name of national security, which is defined very broadly and vaguely, the authorities have assumed the right to censor news sites or NGOs whose only crime is reporting human rights violations by the state.”
It added: “RSF’s website is one of the many that are censored. It has been blocked since August 2017 without any explanation by the Egyptian authorities.”
Local media sources have recently reported that a number of websites have been blocked in recent months on the pretext that they “incite violence and terrorism”.
Under another law passed last month, which has yet to be signed by the president, all social network accounts with more than 5,000 followers would be treated as media outlets.
The law includes 29 sentences ranging from three months to five years, and a fine starting from 10,000 Egyptian pounds ($560) to 20 million Egyptian pounds ($1.1 million).