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Cairo: A new law granting authorities the right to monitor social media users in the country has been ratified in Egypt, the official gazette said Saturday.

President Abdul Fattah Al Sissi has signed  the legislation after it was approved by parliament in July. Under the new law, the state's Supreme Council for Media Regulations will have the power to place users with more than 5,000 followers — on social media or with a personal blog or website — under supervision.

The council will be authorised to suspend or block any personal account which "publishes or broadcasts fake news or anything (information) inciting violating the law, violence or hatred".

The authorities have insisted that such measures are needed to help tackle instability in security and economy caused by the spread of fake news.

In August, the president signed off on another piece of legislation allowing authorities, through a judge, to order the blocking of websites that "constitute a threat" to Egypt's national security or economy.

Those who administer or visit such websites, intentionally or "in error without a valid reason", can now face jail time and fines.

A debate was launched on the ground and on social media between supporters and opponents of the new law.