Proposed Laws in Iraq “Threaten Online Speech”

The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), has issued the following statement regarding proposed new law on “information technology crimes”. (Please click here to download an English translation of the bill by the Centre for Law and Democracy):

More than a year after the start of the “Arab Spring,” large portions of the Middle East remain in upheaval. Even in the most stable of countries, press freedom–and by extension, online freedom–remains up for debate. We’ve highlighted the ongoing debate in Tunisia over online filtering, and have touched on new threats to bloggers in several countries. This week it is legislative proposals in both Iraq and Lebanon that have us on alert.

Iraq’s Harsh Informatics Crime Law

All eyes are currently on Baghdad, where an Arab League Summit is taking place. But, as the Economist notes, “once the dignitaries and television cameras [have departed],” a broadly-worded bill that would severely punish thought crimes is due to come up in front of Iraq’s Parliament. According to a translation from the Centre for Law and Democracy, Article 3 of the Act includes mandatory life sentences for using computers or the Internet to:

  • “compromise” the “unity” of the state;
  • “subscribe, participate, negotiate, promote, contract or deal with an enemy … in order to destabilize security and public order or expose the country to danger”;
  • “damage, cause defects, or hinder [systems or networks] belonging to security military, or intelligence authorities with a deliberate intention to harm [state security]”.
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