Proposed Laws in Iraq “Threaten Online Speech”

Under Articles 4 and 5 of the bill, life imprisonment is also imposed upon those who establish or manage a website with deliberate intent to:

  • promote “ideas which are disruptive to public order”;
  • “implement terrorist operations under fake names or to facilitate communication with members or leaders of terrorist groups”;
  • “promote terrorist activites and ideologies or to publish information regarding the manufacturing, preparation and implementation of flammable or explosive devices, or any tools or materials used in the planning or execution of terrorist acts”;
  • facilitate or promote human trafficking “in any form”;
  • engage in “trafficking, promoting or facilitating the abuse of drugs”.

Other articles of the Act aim to provide legal protection for the “legitimate use of computers and information networks” and to “punish the perpetrators of acts which violate the rights of users whether they may be individuals or legal entities.” The more alarming elements of the Act include provisions to punish those who utilize information networks to “create chaos in order to weaken the trust of the electronic system of the state,” “provoke or promote armed disobedience,” “disturb public order or harm the reputation of the country,” or “intrudes, annoys or calls computer and information network users without authorization or hinders their use.” The penalties for these proposed crimes range from 3 months to life in prison.

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