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Egypt unveils new social media laws

BY: BBC
President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi
President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi

Egypt's parliament has approved a tough new law to regulate social media, raising fears that it could curb dissent against President Abdul Fattah al-Sisi's regime.

The law states that social media users who have more than 5,000 followers could be placed under the supervision of Egypt's Supreme Council for Media Regulations.

The council would be authorised to suspend or block any personal account which "publishes or broadcasts fake news or anything inciting violating the law, violence or hatred", AFP news agency quotes the law as saying.

This would cover websites, blogs and personal accounts, it adds.

Some rights groups see the law - which still has to be approved by Mr Sisi - as an aggressive attempt to restrict social media, which remains one of the few remaining outlets for free expression in Egypt, the Wall Street Journal reports.

The law - along with other media-related laws - would legalize "mass censorship and step up the assault on the right to freedom of expression in Egypt”, the US-based newspaper quotes Amnesty International's Najia Bounaim as saying.