Egypt Targets Social Media With New Law

Egypt’s parliament has passed a law giving the state powers to block social media accounts and penalize journalists held to be publishing fake news.

Under the law passed on Monday social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets, which makes them subject to prosecution for publishing false news or incitement to break the law.

The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, headed by an official appointed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, will supervise the law and take action against violations.

The bill prohibits the establishment of websites without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council and allows it to suspend or block existing websites, or impose fines on editors.

The law, which takes effect after it is ratified by Sissi, also states that journalists can only film in places that are not prohibited, but does not explain further.

Supporters of Sissi say the law is intended to safeguard freedom of expression and it was approved after consultations with judicial experts and journalists.

But critics say it will give legal basis to measures the government has been taking to crack down on dissent and extend its control over social media.

Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the vague wording of the law allows authorities to interpret violations and control the media.

“That power of interpretation has been a constant powerful legal and executive tool that was used to justify excessive aggressive and exceptional measures to go after journalists,” he told Reuters.

Hundreds of news sites and blogs have been blocked in recent months and around a dozen people have been arrested this year and charged with publishing false news, many of them journalists or prominent government critics.

 

Egypt Targets Social Media With New Law

Egypt’s parliament has passed a law giving the state powers to block social media accounts and penalize journalists held to be publishing fake news.

Under the law passed on Monday social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets, which makes them subject to prosecution for publishing false news or incitement to break the law.

The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, headed by an official appointed by President Abdel Fattah el-Sissi, will supervise the law and take action against violations.

The bill prohibits the establishment of websites without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council and allows it to suspend or block existing websites, or impose fines on editors.

The law, which takes effect after it is ratified by Sissi, also states that journalists can only film in places that are not prohibited, but does not explain further.

Supporters of Sissi say the law is intended to safeguard freedom of expression and it was approved after consultations with judicial experts and journalists.

But critics say it will give legal basis to measures the government has been taking to crack down on dissent and extend its control over social media.

Sherif Mansour, Middle East and North Africa program coordinator for the Committee to Protect Journalists, said the vague wording of the law allows authorities to interpret violations and control the media.

“That power of interpretation has been a constant powerful legal and executive tool that was used to justify excessive aggressive and exceptional measures to go after journalists,” he told Reuters.

Hundreds of news sites and blogs have been blocked in recent months and around a dozen people have been arrested this year and charged with publishing false news, many of them journalists or prominent government critics.

 

Twitter Suspends 2 Accounts in Mueller Indictments

Social networking site Twitter Saturday suspended two accounts linked to 12 Russian spies indicted by Special Counsel Robert Mueller for interfering in the 2016 U.S. presidential election.

On Friday, a federal grand jury charged the 12 Russian intelligence officers with hacking Democratic computer networks in 2016 in the most detailed U.S. accusation yet that Moscow meddled in the election to help Republican Donald Trump.

Twitter said Saturday it had suspended the accounts @DCLeaks_ and @Guccifer_2 that were named in the indictment, which alleges a wide-ranging conspiracy involving sophisticated hacking and staged release of documents.

The indictment alleges that from around June 2016 the conspirators released tens of thousands of stolen emails and documents “using fictitious online personas, including ‘DCLeaks’ and ‘Guccifer 2.0.’”

In a statement Saturday, a Twitter spokesman said: “The accounts have been suspended for being connected to a network of accounts previously suspended for operating in violation of our rules.”

Twitter in recent months has purged suspicious user accounts in a bid to prevent the dissemination of fake news and “encourage healthy conversation,” the company said this month.

Friday’s indictment was the first by Mueller that directly charges the Russian government with meddling in the election. The Kremlin denies it interfered.

Speaking at a cybersecurity conference in Philadelphia on Saturday, U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen said the indictments proved that the United States “will not tolerate interference with our democratic processes and that there will be consequences for foreign meddling.”

Technology Enhances Soccer Watching Experience

Football fans are watching the World Cup on multiple screens in bars, on their phones while they should be working, on TVs at home with their friends. One day, they could be following the action in 3D. Researchers at the University of Washington are developing a way to watch soccer games and other sporting matches as if you were in the stadium, by using augmented reality devices. Faiza Elmasry takes a look at the new technology in this report, narrated by Faith Lapidus.

Rising Greenhouse Gases Making Food Less Nutritious

Temperatures around the world are rising as humans burn coal, oil and other fossil fuels for energy. Burning those fuels releases heat-trapping carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. But it does more than that. CO2 is vital for plant growth. While having more of it sounds like a good thing, scientists are finding it is not always that simple. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.

Fingerprinting Technology Could Save Endangered Pangolins

Pangolins are the world’s most illegally trafficked animal. Eight species of the elusive mammals are found in Africa and Southeast Asia, but as many as 300 are poached every day, destined for markets in Vietnam and China, where their meat is considered a delicacy and their scales believed to have medicinal properties. Researchers in the UK are hoping to deter pangolin poaching with fingerprint technology that’s designed to identify poachers and bring them to justice. VOA’s Julie Taboh explains.