Lebanese move to regulate websites

Daft attempts to control what is published on websites have long been a speciality of the Saudi authorities (here and here, for example) but now the infection seems to be spreading to Lebanon.

The Lebanese information minister, Walid Daouk, has proposed a law that would require all website owners to register with his ministry. They would also have to register the website's "official manager" who must not be anyone convicted of "a misdemeanour or felony" and who will not be allowed to manage more than one website at the same time.

The draft law prohibits "any publication by electronic means affecting morals and general ethics, and related to gambling games". It also seeks to bring websites within the ambit of Lebanon's existing media laws, including Press Law 382/94. 

The draft defines a website as an "electronic information system which has clearly defined name and address and data" – which would appear to include blogs and even the smallest websites belonging to businesses and organisations.

The text of the proposed law has been published in Arabic by al-Nahar newspaper and in English on Joseph Choufani's blog.

The council of ministers has postponed discussion of it for the time being, though it is likely to come back later with amendments. Meanwhile, there's a campaign against it on Twitter, with the #StopLIRA hashtag.

Posted by Brian Whitaker, 13 March 2012.