Iraqi Parliament Rejects Draft Cybercrime Bill

By Ali Abel Sadah for Al-Monitor. Any opinions expressed are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the views of Iraq Business News.

On Feb. 5, 2013, the Iraqi parliament responded to a campaign launched by activists against a proposed law criminalizing many means of circulating information. Iraqi lawmakers said that they will draft a new law that preserves public freedoms.

One Iraqi activist, Mazen al-Zaidi, wrote on his Facebook page that the civil movement forced the Iraqi parliament to reject the draft law pertaining to cybercrimes. He said that this bill violates the right of information exchange, as guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution.

Earlier, the Iraqi government had presented to parliament a draft law known as the Cybercrimes Act, which would levy heavy punishments on those who circulate information pertaining to national security.

The draft law addressed in particular Internet and cell-phone users. The government declared that, throughout the drafting process, it had referred to similar laws in some Arab countries, in addition to the US law in this regard.

After the parliament approved revoking the law, the head of the parliamentary Culture and Media Committee said, “The government presented the draft law in 2006, when the country was plagued by terrorism. Al-Qaeda misused the Internet to publish press releases, recruit terrorists and post tips on how to make bombs and IEDs. At the time, the law was a security necessity.”

The annulled law ensured legal protection for those using computers and information networks and punishment for the perpetrators of violations, and prohibited usage that would constitute cybercrimes. Ali al-Shalah, a Shiite MP in the Maliki-led State of Law Coalition, stressed, “The parliament does not wish to endorse a law that would create a sense of distrust when it comes to information; we want the new generation to be technologically involved and informed, without fear.”

According to the annulled law, whoever uses computers and information networks purposely to affect the independence, unity, safety, economic, political, military or security interests of the country shall be sentenced to life imprisonment and a minimum fine of 25 million Iraqi dinars, equivalent to $20,000.

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