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Qatar backs tighter internet rules

The measures give leeway to punish websites

Gulf News

Manama: Qatar’s cabinet has approved a draft law that stipulates legal action against anyone found guilty of using the Internet to publish material deemed threatening to the nation or abusive of social norms or individual privacy.

Under the draft law on fighting cybercrimes, measures will be taken to punish “anyone who manages, via the internet or any other information technology means, to access illegally a website or information system of any of the state’s institutions, organisations or affiliated agencies or companies,” Qatar News Agency (QNA) reported late on Wednesday.

The draft law says that anyone who “establishes or runs an electronic site or publishes false news with the aim of jeopardizing the state safety, its general order and its internal or external security” will also be punished, the official news agency said.

According to the draft, legal measures will be taken against people who “infringe on social principles or values or publish news, photos, audio or visual recordings related to the sanctity of anyone’s private or family life, even if they are genuine.”

The draft law has been referred to the Advisory Council for final approval, the news agency said.

Several Gulf countries have been pushing for a stricter use of the Net amid concerns that social networks and microblogs have deeply affected their social status quo.

Religious figures have been at the forefront of the drive to better control the electronic network and limit challenges to the established order.