Social media accounts and blogs will be officially categorized as “media outlets” in Egypt as the parliament has passed a new law on subjecting these accounts to media laws that criminalize spreading fake news.
The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media will be regulating these accounts; it will have the authority to block websites and file criminal complaints against any account that is “inciting people to violate laws” and spreading “defamation against individuals and religions.”
Some countries have been counting in legislation to fight the spread of fake news and false information.
In 2015, a legislation that made it a crime to publish or share false news or information was passed by the Parliament and is pending ratification by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
In addition, Egypt’s Public prosecution announced recently the launch of a new hotline for citizens to gather complaints of “fake” news that is published in traditional media outlets or digital media platforms, which aims to impose a threat to national security.
In mid-February, the Cabinet referred a draft anti-cyber crime law to Parliament for discussion, which included posing surveillance on social media and limiting the spread of fake news, particularly news inciting violence.
First introduced before Parliament in May 2016, the 33-article draft law was proposed to criminalize illegal electronic practices, such as electronic fraud and encouraging terrorist practices; however, activists and rights defenders perceive the penalties stipulated by the law as very harsh and as a restriction of the freedom of expression, according to various news outlets.
Article no. 27 of the 1881 Freedom of the Press Law punishes “the dissemination in bad faith, by any means, of false news, falsified documents, or statements attributed to third parties that might disturb the public peace or “will be likely to shake the discipline or the morale of the armies or to hinder the war effort of the Nation.”
Also, Article L97 of France’s electoral code prohibits the dissemination of false information that might influence the behavior of voters and compromise the result of the election while still allowing vigorous free expression.
On June 9, 2018, the Taiwanese Parliament received a proposed law from the ruling Democratic Progressive Party that adds a clause to the Social Order Maintenance Act that would penalize those who spread fake news on the internet with up to three days in jail or a fine of up to $30,000 New Taiwan dollars ($1,000).
If passed, the proposed amendment would extend Article 63 of the Social Order Maintenance Act, which already carries fines and prison terms for anyone found guilty of “spreading rumors in a way that is sufficient to undermine public order and peace.”
In Germany, the Parliament adopted a law in June 2017 that stipulates fines of up to 50 million Euros ($58 million) to be imposed on posting hate speech, child pornography, terror-related items and false information on social media.
Moreover, the Malaysian parliament in April 2018 approved a law punishing the propagation of partially or totally false information with prison sentences of up to six years and fines of $130,000.
In May 2018, a cyber-crimes act was signed into the laws of Kenya; the new laws criminalize online spreading of fake news or “false, misleading or fictitious data.”
Ten Brazilian political parties signed an agreement in June with the election authority to fight the dissemination of false information; there are around 10 to 15 draft laws related to the spreading of false information and fake news that are currently being considered by the Brazilian Parliament.