Arab Legislation and Orders Affecting Digital Rights, 2015
The pies indicate countries covered by the legislation dataset to date. Click on a pie to see digital rights–legislation related to that country. Use the filter, top left, to see which countries are using which types of laws and orders to restrict free expression online and other digital rights. The dropdown menu, top right, explains the color code. Please share widely: #arabdigitalrights.
About this Project
The open Arab Digital Rights Datasets aim to illuminate trends in how Arab governments are limiting digital rights, such as free expression and privacy online.
The legislation dataset (mapped at left) comprises laws and other legal instruments that have been applied or could potentially be applied to restrict digital rights. It is the first in three datasets envisioned. The others are:
- A dataset of cases in which individuals have been detained, prosecuted, and sentenced or otherwise punished for exercising their digital rights
- A dataset of campaigns or actions that have been taken, either proactively or reactively, to preserve and protect digital rights online
Methodology to date
This dataset is the product of the work of more than a dozen contributors, including lawyers, journalists, activists, and technologists from the countries in question. to define which laws to include, we set the following criteria:
- Laws or other instruments, such as constitutions, that establish or limit freedom of expression, freedom to assemble, the right to privacy, the right to access information, press freedom
- Laws or other instruments, such as penal codes, that criminalize acts of speech, including over electronic channels
- Laws that regulate the industries that operate electronic communications channels
- Laws that govern content production and sharing, such as copyright and intellectual property laws
- Laws that govern electronic commerce, such as e-transaction and e-signature laws
- Laws that empower state surveillance
- Laws that have been cited in digital rights–related cases
This is a draft chapter on the emerging legal framework for free expression online in Arab countries commissioned by a regional media freedom organization. It was never published. We're currently working on an updated version.
This presentation is the culmination of our first attempt to wrangle the legislation data into some kind of meaningful form. The workshop was hosted by Small Media and included designers, coders, researchers, and civil society organizations. A second data4chan.ge workshop will be held this November in Beirut.
Laws by Country
Laws by Type of Law
Arab Legislation Affecting Digital Rights
We have made every attempt to make this list comprehensive and will update it as laws change. You can also filter the data using the dropdown menus below, view it as a table or download the data from the footer below. If you find an error or omission, please let us know. Please note that in some cases the translations may reflect an earlier version of the law.
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Read SMEX blogposts on the Emerging Legal Framework for Digital Rights in the Arab Region
Social Media Exchange (SMEX) is a registered Lebanese nonprofit. We have advocated for digital inclusion and digital rights in the Arab region since our founding in 2008. We design and deliver digital and social media courses and do research and advocacy on free expression and privacy online. We are committed to open culture, open data, and the creation of Arabic-language content (coming soon to this Silk).
This dataset wouldn't have been possible without the research contributions of Afef Abrougui, Fahmi Albaheth, Riyadh Al-Balushi, Matt Duffy, Ahmed Ezzat, Michael Fuchs, Noura Ghazi, Hayder Hamzoz, Wafa Ben Hassine, Ahmed Jedou, Hanna Kreitem, Reem Al Masri, Mariam El Shafie, Haydar Shakeri, Mohamed El Taher, Mohammad Tarakiyee. Support for the initial aggregation of laws of six countries was provided by Hivos' IGMENA program.