Legal Alert 114

New Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law Protects Investment and Investors

To top off a year of innovative and advanced legal instruments, the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes Law (Law No. 175 of the year 2018) has been ratified and published in the official Gazette. The new law addresses issues such as hacking state information systems, committing crimes through information systems, technology, or e-mail, or publishing material online that threatens the country’s security or economy. It is a much-needed update from the out dated its 2004 counterpart, which only addressed telecommunications. This made the law inadequate to address modern cybercrimes, which often gave judges difficulty in finding the appropriate legislation to fit alleged crimes. This undermined key principles such as legal certainty and fairness. Now, this law, even if not directly nor clearly an economic law, can be used to provide assurance for investors and potential business people, as it is a key tool in any modern legal system.

The law, made up of 45 articles, revolves around ensuring the safe and secure use of technology – not around restraining its users. Most importantly, we find that such a law is essential from a professional perspective: after a spur of new laws aimed and protecting investment and growth in a modern, paperless economy, the platform behind all of these changes, technology, must be protected in the highest regard.

To start off, the law strictly prohibits any sort of activity that promotes terrorist support. The law then moves on to address hacking: anyone convicted of hacking into state-owned systems would be subject to a fine of EGP 50,000 – 200,000 as well as a two-year prison sentence. Hacking other individuals’ or organizations websites or account would lead to similar penalties. Similarly, using someone else’s name to operate an e-mail, website, or other private account may lead to a fine between 10,000 – 30,000 and/or three-month imprisonment. In fact, individuals may be penalized for altering or otherwise disrupting an individual’s or organization’s website. Individuals may also be banned from travel if they are the subject of investigations concerning cyber-crimes.

Moreover, the law penalizes anyone who uses the internet to make unfair gain. It also imposes a fine of EGP 50,000 – 250,000 and/or a one-year prison sentence on anyone who gains illegal access to information.

The second half off of the law concerns using technology to gain access to bank information or hack credit or debit cards. This also includes penalizing any disrespect of privacy through leaking contact information. This part is key to ensuring that this law is adequate in addressing crimes that modern courts are faced with but cannot adequately address using current laws.

The law also addresses those involved in the above crimes through selling, making, or providing in any way certain machines without authorization from the relevant entity.

In conclusion, the new law serves as a much-needed update in a wide framework of laws that directly and indirectly touch on the investment atmosphere in Egypt. Its provisions provide more legal certainty for internet users, ensuring that decisions and verdicts can be fairer and more grounded on sound legislation.

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