(Un) Freedom of the Press

The 2018 Law on the Organisation of Press, Media and the Supreme Council of Media (the Law) of the Arab Republic of Egypt is part of a collection of new media and cybercrime measures which work together towards legalising existing restrictions on freedom of the media.

The Law is extremely problematic and fails to comply with international human rights standards. The Supreme Council of Media (Supreme Council), which is largely appointed by the President, is tasked with regulating media. This includes the power to block journalistic web pages, social media accounts, or any personal web page with over 5,000 followers for a wide variety of grounds that are impermissible grounds for restricting freedom of expression. Under international standards, the blocking of access to websites are generally interferences with the right of freedom of expression and should only be ordered by a court or independent adjudicatory bodies. 

The Law fails to distinguish between different forms of regulation for broadcast and print and

Internet-based media and imposes onerous administrative and licensing requirements for individuals to disseminate information in Egypt. Under the Law, which the authorities began implementing on 23 October 2018, online newspapers have to apply to register.

Articles 34 and 36 of the Law fix the sum that media outlets must deposit in a bank account,

depending on the type of media. In all, applying for a media permit will cost 660,000 Egyptian

pounds (33,000 euros). A deposit of 50,000 pounds (2,450 euros) is needed just to start the

application process. This is a large sum in Egypt, much more than independent websites can afford.

Getting a permit seems impossible for sites already blocked by the government. In the event that

such sites do get a permit, there is no guarantee that they would unblocked.