Bahrain Mulls Social Media Law

Officials say new laws are needed to prevent misuse of social networking tools in the country.

Bahrain is planning to introduce new laws to prevent the misuse of social media, according to local media reports.

Samira Rajab, minister of state for Information Affairs, said that the country requires such regulations to guarantee the safety of the country and its residents.

“The unrest in Bahrain last year was fuelled by the irresponsible use of such media and everything was blown out of proportion to suit some people’s agenda,” Rajab told reporters on the sidelines of a security conference.

With Western countries like the US, UK and France also regulating social media, Bahrain certainly needs to have its own legislation, Gulf Daily News quoted Rajab as saying.

“How can Bahrain not do this? We have a right to punish those who indulge in seditious behaviour and create disunity among the people,” she said.

“We have to think of how to protect our national security. We have these new threats and we have to see how we can tackle those threats.”

According to Rajab, so-called human rights activists were “abusing” social media in Bahrain.

“It is these activists who have labelled drowning victims as those killed by torture,” she said.

“They have labelled sickle cell victims as being killed by security forces and they have used social media to completely distort the true picture of Bahrain.”

“This cannot be tolerated. The rule of law shall prevail,” she added.

Last week, a prominent Bahraini human rights activist was arrested because of his remarks on social media that were allegedly critical of Bahrain’s ruling system.

Earlier this year, Kuwait had also announced that it plans to pass laws to regulate the use of social networking sites, such as Twitter, after cases of alleged blasphemy and sectarianism.

“The government is in the process of establishing laws that will allow government entities to regulate the use of different new media outlets, like Twitter, in order to safeguard the cohesiveness of the population and society,” Information Minister Sheikh Mohammed al-Mubarak Al-Sabah said in April this year.

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