Internet Legislation Atlas: A Guide to Cyber Legislation in the MENA Region  

As part of IGMENA’s goal of improving knowledge and enhancing legislation on Internet policies in the MENA Region, a study was conducted in collaboration with the Social Media Exchange (SMEX) to identify the main legal instruments in relation to Internet rights in the following seven countries: Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, and Tunisia. The “Internet Legislation in the MENA Region” project was the first phase of a broader project entitled the Internet Legislation Atlas (ILA).         
 
The “Internet Legislation in the MENA Region” project provided readers with a compilation of the existing laws and regulations related to digital rights in each of the seven countries, as well as with an indication of how human rights are protected, or neglected in the Internet environment in those countries. In order to contribute to improve those records, a next phase within the broader project is under development. This phase of ILA will:
  • identify the major characteristics which define the legal landscape in each country as it relates to the Internet;
  • outline gaps and ambiguities among existing laws and regulations in relation to international standards—specifically in comparison to The Charter of Human Rights and Principles for the Internet and the 10 Internet Rights and Principles compiled by the Internet Rights and Principles Dynamic Coalition (IRPC);
  • advance patterns and trends within the digital rights field in the MENA region;
  • provide an overview of best practices concerning the protection of digital rights in the seven countries reviewed;
  • suggest recommendations for IG-related policymaking in the MENA region by weighing national results against other international indicators and frameworks of protection.
 
The Internet Legislation Atlas will describe the rights guaranteed by Internet-related legal instruments by comparing national regulations and exposing restrictive provisions in order to promote repeal. The analysis will offer a basis for developing more coherent regulatory frameworks by defining minimum regional standards and benchmarks. In addition, the project will help popularise Internet-related rights and the principles behind them, raising awareness about current legislation related to the Internet environment among civil society, policy and decision makers.

The outcomes of ILA will include:
  • an analytical report on national and regional legislation;
  • a manual of cyber legislation topics, principles, and benchmarks to be used as a guide for implementation at the national level;
  • a compilation of best practices for tackling IG-related challenges;
  • recommendations for national implementation and regional policymaking;
  • a platform for exchanging knowledge, as well as for disseminating the information gathered;
  • a user-friendly interactive tool for comparing each country’s legislation to a defined set of international standards. 
 
The comparative analysis of Internet related laws in the MENA Region will first define a set of indicators, which will be used as a guide for monitoring rights in the Internet environment. The context in which legislation is drafted, passed, or amended will be analysed, along with other contributing factors. Additional aspects affecting IG-related legislation will be considered, such as restrictions, overlapping competent authorities or legal instruments, contradictions, and national security issues. The study of these elements might also require broader analyses from geo-political, economic, religious, or sociological perspectives.
 
The Internet Legislation Atlas project will advance Internet rights and freedoms through improved legislation by raising awareness of stakeholders to influence the decision-making process and play an active role in safeguarding Internet freedom. ILA will also increase the knowledge of stakeholders to take the lead in promoting rights-based Internet policies in their countries, and to engage in regional and global discussions.