from the desk

Qatar Today - - FROM THE DESK -

Septem­ber has been a tu­mul­tuous month, es­pe­cially for those of us who work in the me­dia. The new cy­ber­crime law makes ev­ery jour­nal­ist think twice be­fore he or she re­acts, tweets or ex­presses his or her opin­ion on the so­cial me­dia. That in essence cur­tails press free­dom and ques­tions the cy­ber­crime law. The Com­mit­tee to Pro­tect Jour­nal­ists (CPJ) has warned that the broad lan­guage of the new cy­ber­crime law could be used to re­strict press free­dom and jail jour­nal­ists. “This law is os­ten­si­bly to stop cy­ber­crime but at least two ar­ti­cles will se­verely re­strict free­dom of ex­pres­sion, which is not a crime,” said Sherif Man­sour, CPJ Mid­dle East and North Africa Co­or­di­na­tor, in a state­ment. The two ar­ti­cles that Man­sour and the rest of the me­dia are con­cerned about are Ar­ti­cle Six which stip­u­lates up to three years' im­pris­on­ment and a fine of QR500,000 ($137,300) for set­ting up or man­ag­ing a web­site that spreads “false news aimed at jeop­ar­dis­ing state se­cu­rity”, and Ar­ti­cle 8 which stip­u­lates a jail term of up to three years and a fine of QR100,000 ($27,500) for any “vi­o­la­tion of so­cial val­ues, or pub­lish­ing news, pic­tures, audio or video record­ings that are re­lated to in­di­vid­u­als' pri­vate life and fam­ily, even if true”. Qatar To­day tries to catch the mood of the me­dia and the gen­eral pub­lic about this im­por­tant law. While a cy­ber­crime law is per­ti­nent in any coun­try, es­pe­cially in Qatar which has a higher am­bi­tion of broad­band ac­cess to 95% of the coun­try by 2015 and where a large pop­u­la­tion is en­gaged in so­cial me­dia in­ter­ac­tion, the fact that it has in­cluded as­pects which should ide­ally be within any coun­try's me­dia law wor­ries most of us here. A sim­i­lar up­dated Cy­ber­crime Law of 2012 by UAE has seen a wide­spread crack­down on dis­sent­ing speech. Last year, 69 Emi­ratis were con­victed of at­tempt­ing to over­throw the gov­ern­ment, but crit­ics said most of the de­fen­dants were merely guilty of speak­ing out against the gov­ern­ment and call­ing for re­form. This will only add to the al­ready in­creas­ing al­le­ga­tions against the coun­try in the face of the 2022 World Cup Bid, which has been mired in con­tro­versy amid al­le­ga­tions of bribery and ques­tion­able labour con­di­tions for those build­ing the sta­di­ums and in­fra­struc­ture. Mean­while, within the coun­try, not ev­ery­thing looks as bleak as por­trayed by the for­eign me­dia; here we have fam­ily busi­nesses tak­ing steps to go global while keep­ing val­ues in­her­ent, we have ex­perts com­ing to Qatar to share ex­per­tise on host­ing events of such scale, ex­perts who have helped pen the win­ning bid and stand by the truth­ful­ness be­hind it and waste gen­er­a­tion, both con­struc­tion-re­lated and do­mes­tic, which could be another elephantine con­cern if not put to value.

Qatar To­day brings to its read­ers all the sto­ries that make the coun­try event­ful with a pot­pourri of achieve­ments, tribu­la­tions and some down­right fail­ures.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Qatar

© PressReader. All rights reserved.