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Egypt: President Ratifies Anti-Cybercrime Law

(Oct. 5, 2018) In August 2018, Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ratified Law No. 175 of 2018, the “Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes” law. (Law No. 175 of 2018, AL-JARIDAH AL- RASMIYAH [OFFICIAL GAZETTE], vol. 32 (bis) (c), 14 Aug. 2018 (in Arabic).) The newly enacted law, published in the Official Gazette on August 19, 2018, aims at fighting extremist and terrorist organizations that use the internet to promote their ideas among youth. The Law also bans the online dissemination of information on army and police movement and criminalizes hacking into information systems. (Mariana Barsoum, Egypt’s Sisi Ratifies New Cyber-crime Law, AHRAM ONLINE (Aug. 18, 2018).)

Law No. 175 consists of 45 provisions. Among them, article 2 requires telecommunications companies to retain and store users’ data for 180 days in order to assist the authorities in identifying users, metadata, and computer IP addresses. Article 4 of the Law obliges the Ministries of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation to reach bilateral agreements covering Internet Technology (IT) and cybercrime with as many foreign governments as possible to block some websites in foreign countries. Article 7 grants the investigative authorities the power to block any website whenever they deem that the website’s content promotes extremist ideas that violate national security or damages the Egyptian economy. (Wafa Ben-Hassine, Egyptian Parliament Approves Cybercrime Law Legalizing Blocking of Websites and Full Surveillance of Egyptians, ACCESS NOW (June 20, 2018).)

Article 8 gives customers and internet service providers (ISPs) the right to appeal censorship decisions before the criminal court within seven days of the censoring of a website. (Law No. 175, art. 8.)

Article 13 provides that using wireless networks with or without the owner’s permission, or using broadcasting channels without a communications permit or broadcasting license is punishable by imprisonment for no less than three months and a fine of 10,000–50,000 Egyptian pounds (EGP) (about US$557–2,786). (How You Will be Affected by the New Cybercrime Law: A Guide, MADA MASR (Aug. 21, 2018).)

According to article 14, individuals who gain access to or hack a website, private account, or prohibited information system, whether intentionally or unintentionally, may be penalized with imprisonment of no less than a year and/or a fine of EGP50,000–100,000 (about US$2,786–5,573). If the hacking leads to the damage, erasure, altering, copying, or redistribution of data or information, the term of imprisonment would be for no less than two years. (Law No. 175, art. 14.)

Article 15 states that anyone who obtains access to a website, an account, or an information system using inappropriate privileges or timing is punishable by no less than six months of imprisonment and/or a fine of EGP30,000–50,000 (about US$1,672–2,786). (Id. art. 15.)

Under article 20, individuals convicted of hacking state information systems can be fined EGP50,000–200,000 (about US$2,786–11,145) and/or sentenced to imprisonment for two years. (Barsoum, supra.)

Creating fake accounts using the names of public figures or organizations is also punishable under the new law. Article 24 stipulates that anyone who creates a fake email address, website, or personal account in the name of actual individuals or organizations is punishable by a term of imprisonment of no less than three months and/or a fine of EGP10,000–30,000. Moreover, creating an account to insult a public figure may be punished by imprisonment and a fine of EGP100,000–300,000 (about US$5,573–16,718). (How You Will Be Affected by the New Cybercrime Law: A Guide, supra.)

In accordance with article 25, individuals who post on websites or social media platforms videos, photos, or texts of others without their consent and in violation of their privacy are punishable by no less than six months in prison and/or a fine of EGP50,000–100,000. Posting content that “violates the family principles and values upheld by Egyptian society” may be punished by a minimum of six-months’ imprisonment and/or a fine of EGP50,000–100,000. (Id.)

Finally, a service provider who fails to carry out a censorship order or directive issued by the competent authority against a specific website or online blog account is punishable under article 30 by no less than a year in prison and/or a fine of EGP500,000–1 million (around US$27,864–55,727). (Law No. 157, art. 30.)