Arab Digital Rights Dataset (updated May 18, 2016)

Arab Legislation and Orders Affecting Digital Rights, 2015

Page Title
Laws & Orders
Type of Law or Order
Access to administrative documents of public entitiesAccess to InformationTunisia
Access to informationAccess to InformationMorocco
Anti-cybercrime lawAnti-CybercrimeSaudi Arabia
Anti-terrorism lawAnti-TerrorismEgypt
Anti-terrorism lawAnti-TerrorismMorocco
Anti-terrorism lawAnti-TerrorismTunisia
Anti-terrorism lawAnti-TerrorismMauritania
Anti-terrorism lawAnti-TerrorismSyria
Basic law of governancePenal CodeSaudi Arabia
Basic statute of the stateConstitutionOman
Combatting cybercrimeAnti-CybercrimeUAE
Combatting money laundering and financing terrorismAnti-TerrorismKuwait
Combatting terrorismAnti-TerrorismQatar
Concerning crime and penaltiesPenal CodeYemen
Copyright and neighboring right protection actCopyright/Intellectual PropertySudan
Copyright and neighboring rights lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertyAlgeria
Copyright and related rightCopyright/Intellectual PropertyUAE
Copyright and related rightsCopyright/Intellectual PropertyMorocco
Copyright lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertyLibya
Copyright lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertyKuwait
Copyright lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertySyria
Copyright lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertyIraq
Copyright protectionCopyright/Intellectual PropertyJordan
Copyrights and neighboring rights lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertyBahrain
Creation of the technical agency of telecommunicationSurveillanceTunisia
Cyber Crime lawAnti-CybercrimeEgypt
Cybercrime lawAnti-CybercrimeSyria
Cybercrime lawAnti-CybercrimeOman
Cybercrime lawAnti-CybercrimeAlgeria
Cybercrime prevention lawAnti-CybercrimeQatar
Digital signatureE-TransactionSyria
E-Crime lawAnti-CybercrimeSudan
E-signature lawE-TransactionIraq
E-signature lawE-TransactionSaudi Arabia
E-transaction lawE-TransactionBahrain
E-transaction lawE-TransactionMorocco
E-transaction signature lawE-TransactionEgypt
E-transactions actE-TransactionSudan
E-transactions lawE-TransactionLebanon
E-transactions lawE-TransactionKuwait
E-transactions lawE-TransactionOman
Eavesdropping lawSurveillanceLebanon
Electronic commerce and transaction lawE-TransactionQatar
Electronic crimes lawAnti-CybercrimeJordan
Electronic transaction and paymentE-TransactionYemen
Industrial property rightsCopyright/Intellectual PropertyOman
Information securityData ProtectionTunisia
Information systems crime law - JordanInformation systems crime lawJordan
Information technology crimes lawCybercrimeBahrain
Information technology law - BahrainOthersBahrain
Intellectual property lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertyPalestine
Intellectual property lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertyLebanon
Intellectual property lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertyYemen
Intellectual property lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertyLibya
Intellectual property lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertySaudi Arabia
Interim national constitutionConstitutionSudan
Iraqi Media Network LawTelecommunicationIraq
Law of anti-money laundering and combating the financing of terrorismAnti-TerrorismOman
Law of copyrights and neighboring rightCopyright/Intellectual PropertyOman
Law of criminal procedurePenal CodeSaudi Arabia
Law of printed materials and publicationMedia/Press/PublicationSaudi Arabia
Law on securing the right to information accessAccess to InformationJordan
Law on the censorship of works and artistic compositionSurveillanceOman
Law to prevent the misuse of communication devices in the Kurdistan regionAnti-CybercrimeIraq
Law to protect journalistsMedia/Press/PublicationIraq
Liberty of press, printing and publicationMedia/Press/PublicationTunisia
Literary and artistic propertyCopyright/Intellectual PropertyTunisia
Literary and artistic works actCopyright/Intellectual PropertySudan
Media and publication lawMedia/Press/PublicationSudan
Media freedom lawMedia/Press/PublicationMauritania
Media lawMedia/Press/PublicationLebanon
Media lawMedia/Press/PublicationAlgeria
Media lawMedia/Press/PublicationSyria
National Council Media Regulation LawMedia/Press/PublicationEgypt
Non-financial anti-money laundering / Anti-terrorist financing regulationAnti-TerrorismUAE
Penal codePenal CodeUAE
Penal codePenal CodeQatar
Penal codePenal CodeJordan
Penal codePenal CodeEgypt
Penal codePenal CodeIraq
Penal codePenal CodePalestine
Penal codePenal CodeAlgeria
Penal codePenal CodeOman
Penal codePenal CodeKuwait
Penal codePenal CodeMorocco
Penal codePenal CodeTunisia
Penal codePenal CodeSyria
Penal codePenal CodeLebanon
Penal law on dissemination and disclosure of classified information and documentsPenal CodeSaudi Arabia
Postal service act, telegraph and telephoneTelecommunicationIraq
Presidential decree to amend the publication lawMedia/Press/PublicationYemen
Press and publication lawMedia/Press/PublicationJordan
Press and publication lawMedia/Press/PublicationMorocco
Press and publicationsMedia/Press/PublicationYemen
Press and publications lawMedia/Press/PublicationOman
Press and publications lawMedia/Press/PublicationKuwait
Prints and publicationMedia/Press/PublicationQatar
Privacy lawPrivacyMorocco
Private communication commisionTelecommunicationJordan
Protection of copyright lawCopyright/Intellectual PropertyJordan
Protection of copyrights and neighboring rightCopyright/Intellectual PropertyQatar
Protection of intellectual property rightsCopyright/Intellectual PropertyEgypt
Protection of personal dataData ProtectionTunisia
Protection of state secrets and documents lawOthersJordan
Publication lawMedia/Press/PublicationIraq
Publication lawMedia/Press/PublicationSyria
Publication lawMedia/Press/PublicationPalestine
Publication lawMedia/Press/PublicationLebanon
Publications and publishing lawMedia/Press/PublicationUAE
Publications lawMedia/Press/PublicationEgypt
Regarding organizing the press, printing and publishingMedia/Press/PublicationBahrain
Regulation and organization of journalism and press functionsMedia/Press/PublicationEgypt
Telecom actTelecommunicationSaudi Arabia
Telecommuncation lawTelecommunicationBahrain
Telecommunication corporation actTelecommunicationSudan
Telecommunication lawTelecommunicationAlgeria
Telecommunication lawTelecommunicationLibya
Telecommunication lawTelecommunicationTunisia
Telecommunication lawTelecommunicationYemen
Telecommunication lawTelecommunicationMauritania
Telecommunication lawTelecommunicationPalestine
Telecommunication lawTelecommunicationSyria
Telecommunication lawTelecommunicationUAE
Telecommunication lawTelecommunicationLebanon
Telecommunication regulation lawTelecommunicationEgypt
Telecommunications and regulatory actTelecommunicationOman
Terrorism lawAnti-TerrorismLibya
The public authority for radio and televisionTelecommunicationOman
UntitledCopyright/Intellectual PropertyOman

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 Dataset aims 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. 

With this open dataset, we seek to empower activists, journalists, civil society, human rights defenders, lawyers, judges, and others to hold all governments accountable to protect and preserve human and civil rights in a digital age. 

This is a work in progress. We want to know about errors and omissions. An Arabic version is next. We'd love your help.

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. 

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 third 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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Arab Digital Rights Datasets by Social Media Exchange is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License

About SMEX

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).

View and download the most up-to-date version of the dataset in Arabic and English.


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.