The Telecommunications and Information Technology Committee in the Egyptian House of Representatives has agreed on regulation for the blocking of websites operating within or outside the country.

The bill grants the Specialised Investigative Authority the right to order the blocking of one or several websites, links or content whenever technically possible and whenever there is evidence that a website operating contains any words, numbers, images, propaganda content or similar content, which constitutes a crime under the law, constitutes a threat to national security, or jeopardizes the country’s security or national economy.

Article 7 of the procedures and decisions on blocking websites states that, “Whenever there is evidence that a website inside or outside the country has placed any words, numbers, images, propaganda content or similar content, which constitutes a crime under the law, constitutes a threat to national security, or jeopardizes the country’s security or national economy, the specialised investigative authority has the right to order the blocking of one or several websites, links or content whenever technically possible.”

In urgent cases, for example if there is an imminent danger or damage caused by the commission of a crime, the Specialised Inspection and Regulatory Authorities may notify the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority which will then ask the Internet Service Provider to immediately and temporarily block the website or websites.

The service provider shall comply immediately with the content of the notification upon receiving it. The notified Inspection and Regulatory Authority will submit a report confirming the actions taken by the Specialised Investigative Authority within 48 hours from the date of the incident. If the mentioned report is not submitted at the specified date, the site will be unblocked.

In all cases, the investigative authority shall submit the blocking order to the special court to be held in the counselling room within 24 hours. The court shall issue its decision by accepting or objecting the matter not later than 72 hours from the time the blocking is presented to it. During the investigation, under the request of the investigative authority, the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority, or the specialised parties, the court in question may order the termination of the ban or its modification . The decision to block a website shall then be nullified by an order stating that there is no basis for criminal proceedings or a final judgment of innocence.”

Article 8 which regulates the appeal against the websites blocking decisions, provides that “Any person against whom a judicial order has been issued in accordance with article 7 of this law and with the specialised investigative authority, may appeal against it or the procedures for its execution before the special criminal court after 7 days from the date of the decision or the date of its execution, as the case may be. If the appeal is not accepted, the concerned person can submit a new one 3 months after the date of the decision to reject the appeal. In all cases the appeal shall be filed by a report of the special criminal court. The head of the court shall adjudicate the appeal within a period of no more than 7 days from the date of the report.

Article 9, regulating travel bans, states that “where necessary, or where there is sufficient evidence of the seriousness of the charge of committing or attempting to commit any of the offences set out in this Act, the Deputy General, the First Public Defenders he authorises in the Appeal Prosecution, or other investigative authorities, as the case may be, have the right to issue an injunction, for a specified period, to prevent the accused from travelling outside the country or by registering his name on the check-in lists.”

Any person who is banned from travelling or who is on the check-in lists may appeal against this matter before the special criminal court within 15 days from the date of his knowledge about the matter. If his appeal is refused, the concerned person can appeal again 3 months after the date of the first decision. The appeal shall be filed by a report of the special criminal court. The head of the court shall adjudicate the appeal and inform the public prosecution and the complainant. The court shall investigate the matter within a period of no more than 15 days from the date of the report by a reasoned judicial decision after hearing the statements of the complainant and the Specialised Investigative Authority. To achieve this, it may take whatever action or investigations it deems necessary in this regard.

The Specialised Investigative Authority may cancel or amend an order it issues by removing the listed name in the travel ban lists or the waiting lists for a specified period, if necessary. In all cases, the travel ban order ends one year from the date of issuance, under a decision that there is no possibility for a criminal prosecution, or under a final equitable judgment, according to one of which is most suitable.”

 

middleeastmonitor