Egypt's government is considering a draft bill which, if passed to become a law, will require people in the North Afrikan country to register with the government in order to be able to use social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook.
The draft bill is said to have been drafted and proposed by Egyptian Member of Parliament, Riad Abdul Sattar, and it proposes that Egyptians be required to obtain a license in order to use social media.
The draft bill proposes that in order to register for a "social media license" people supply the following information as part of their application to Egypt's government:
Egyptian ID Number
E-mail address to be used
Username/s to be used on the social media platform/s
Social media platforms the person requires a license for
Furthermore, the draft bill proposes that any person in Egypt who does not obtain a license to use social media platforms but continues to do so will be prosecuted by the Ministry of the Interior.
This comes not too long after a similar proposal was circulated in Kenya where Kenya Film and Classification Board CEO, Ezekiel Mutua, has proposed that a law be passed that prohibits anyone in Kenya from using pseudonyms on social media. Just like the draft bill in Egypt, the proposal by Mutua in Kenya also proposes an added step of requiring anyone in Kenya to register with the country's government before using any social media platform.
The merits of whether such proposals are justified or not are a topic for another day, more and equally interesting is how the governments envisage implementing such laws as it would likely require communications surveillance of an unprecedented scale.
It is also worrying that there seems to be a common perception among regulators on the continent that if people use specific tools to voice their opinions the first step they think of is to either try to ban the said tools or look to regulate them with disregard for other rights such as freedom of speech.
In both cases in Kenya and Egypt, people have come out on social media saying they are against the proposals but eventually the final decision is with each country's MPs to vote and decide.
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