❊ The Lebanese Government Still Wants to Regulate Your Blog

So apparently our esteemed Minister of communications Walid Daouk is planning to discuss a draft law aimed at “regulating websites and protecting their owners”.

I’ve previously called bullshit on the claims that the government wants to protect us. Oops, I just wrote “bullshit” and broke clause #1 of the proposed law:

The publication by electronic means of material that affects public morals and ethics [...] is prohibited.

I shudder to think what they’d do to Angie with such a clause. But hey, since the government wants to “protect” me, maybe I should go ahead and submit my real name, my contact info and my address as mandated by the proposed law, since the law says that websites should provide the details of their “manager in charge”.

Speaking of that “manager in charge”, you can only operate a website if you were never convicted of anything (sorry repentant ex-convicts, no blog for you). You can only “manage” one website at a time(Liliane, you’ll have to choose one of your blogs and one only). And most importantly, if you have legal immunity, you are not allowed to manage websites. So dear representatives of the Lebanese people in parliament, I’m sorry to announce that you are not allowed to have blogs and talk directly to your constituents.

Let me double down on breaking the first clause: This is a boat-load of crap! Not just because it’s hopelessly obsolete (Twitter? Facebook? Google Plus? anyone? Who is the “manager in charge” of such accounts?) but because it’s not enforceable and people are just going to ignore it and run loops around it.

Even the reasons for creating such a law are bogus. Each website, blog, or twitter account establishes its own credibility, and people who make stuff up or steal content are eventually shunned and lose influence (if they had any to start with). The mechanics of fairness and balance are inherent on the web, since it doesn’t cost you a thing to have a voice online.

So please, please, spare us your silly “protection”, and while you’re at it, shut down your utterly useless ministry.

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  • http://abzyy.com Abir Ghattas

    I wonder if this applied to your blog , since ur in Ghana?? I think he will amend his law just for “black eyes”.
    what a stupid law, stupid ministry and useless regulations.
    Thanks for this post Mostapha.

  • G-man

    Small Typo: Walid Daouk is the information minister, not the communications one.

    Anyway, I think you should thank Prime Minister Mikati, the leader protecting the Sunnis from the tyrant Michel Aoun.

  • Wael

    Gosh!!! Does anyone in the gov. understand technology!!

    -99% of blogs do not use .lb and are hosted outside of Lebanon.
    -You can buy a privacy service to hide your Whois info.

    As long as you’re abiding by the terms of your host service, you can talk about anything you want and they won’t reveal your identity or shutdown your site even if the Lebanese Governement asks.

  • Z. H.

    I had such a laugh reading the law. I mean the guy that calls himself a minister is asking politely for Leb bloggers to self-declare and surrender to censorship, curation and prosecution.

    On the other hand, who said that the Lebanese government can claim ownership on non-lebanese registered websites in the first place? Stupid minister of the stupid Lebanese government..

  • Craig

    I think you guys are underestimating the government’s ability to monitor electronic communications in Lebanon, regardless of where the hosting sites are located and what the privacy/security policies of those hosts may be. Even if the government watchdogs are clueless, some pretty sophisticated automated eavesdropping software has been sold to quite a few governments in the ME in recent years.

    http://news.yahoo.com/irans-leader-sets-internet-control-group-120414188.html

    TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Iran’s supreme leader ordered Wednesday the creation of an Internet oversight agency that includes top military, security and political figures in the country’s boldest attempt yet to control the web.

    Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said the Supreme Council of Cyberspace will be tasked with preventing harm to Iranians who go online, state TV reported.

    Coincidence?

  • http://www.poshlemon.blogspot.com Posh

    This is simply stupid and backwards and it just impinges on our right to expression. If I wanted to run ten blogs at once (hence, Liliane known as Funkyozzi) then I can and I should.

    And the whole idea of a Ministry of Information is stupid.

  • Fadi

    they were feeling left out of the sopa pipa etc laws.. so they wanted to get some of the fun

  • CopyCat

    did you read this excellent piece on the subject by Khodor Salameh?

    http://english.al-akhbar.com/content/lebanese-internet-law-attacks-last-free-space-expression

  • http://marketinginlebanon.com Youmny

    The most simplified and sarcastic presentation of the law I’ve read so far… and I say that with admiration. Well done.