Egypt’s parliament has passed a law giving the state powers to block social media accounts and penalize journalists held to be publishing fake news, Reuters reports.
Under the law passed on Monday social media accounts and blogs with more than 5,000 followers on sites such as Twitter and Facebook will be treated as media outlets, which makes them subject to prosecution for publishing false news or incitement to break the law.
The Supreme Council for the Administration of the Media, headed by an official appointed by President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, will supervise the law and take action against violations.
The bill prohibits the establishment of websites without obtaining a license from the Supreme Council and allows it to suspend or block existing websites, or impose fines on editors.
The law, which takes effect after it is ratified by Sisi, also states that journalists can only film in places that are not prohibited, but does not explain further.
Supporters of Sisi say the law is intended to safeguard freedom of expression and it was approved after consultations with judicial experts and journalists.