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Kuwait to enforce e-media license from 25 July
July 22, 2017, 2:37 pm
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The time set for all electronic media publications in Kuwait to register and obtain an online license from the Ministry of Information will end on Tuesday, 25 July, an official from the Ministry of Information said last week.

Speaking at a press-conference, the Ministry of Information’s official spokesman and Assistant Undersecretary for Planning and Knowledge Department, Mohammad Al-Awash, said that online media outlets in Kuwait have to obtain an electronic media (e-media) license from the Information Ministry, and begin complying with stipulations of the e-media law before 25 July. He pointed out that the e-media law was enacted to organize and regulate print and online media and to ensure that they comply with relevant laws of the country.

It will be remembered that the National Assembly, during its session on 13 January, 2016, passed by overwhelming majority the Law Number 8 of 2016 regarding the regulation of electronic media. The new e-media law regulates all web-based publications in the country, including electronic news services, bulletins, websites of newspapers and televisions and the likes. Under the legislation, all these services must obtain an e-media license from the government before they can operate.

Tabling the new law in Parliament, Kuwait’s then Minister of Information and State Minister for Youth Affairs Sheikh Salman Al Humoud Al-Sabah stated that the e-media law underscores the fact that electronic media is considered one of the components of the information system in the country, and the freedom of its use is guaranteed for all according to the rules of the new law.

He insisted that there is no prior censorship on what content is circulated via electronic sites and facilities and that the new law was aimed at regulating electronic media and would not apply to personal accounts like those of bloggers.  

We reproduce here some Articles of the new law that are of specific relevance to anyone currently owning, or aiming to establish, an online publication in Kuwait. Article 1 of the Law Number 8 of 2016 clarifies that ‘Electronic Media’ refers to any activity that includes publishing or broadcasting items andforms of a media service of electronic content that is produced, developed, upgraded, dealt with, broadcast, published or reached through the internet or any other communications network.

Article 1 also defines the owner and responsible manager of the electronic site or electronic media publication tool, who will be held liable for complying with the e-media law and its contents.

According to Article 1, the owner of the site or electronic media publication tool should be a Kuwaiti citizen of not less than 21 years of age, of good repute, and not previously sentenced for a felony or a crime that violates honor or trust, unless his status was restored.

The owner can appoint a responsible manager, who should also be a Kuwaiti citizen of not less than 21 years of age, to manage the site or electronic media publication tool. The administrative and judicial authorities will hold the responsible manager liable for all content published on the site or electronic media publication tool.

Article 5 clarifies that the new law is applicable to the following electronic sites and electronic information media: Electronic publication houses; Electronic news agencies; Electronic journalism; News services; Electronic sites, information service facilities and commercial advertisements; Electronic sites of paper newspapers and audio-video satellite channels.

The rules of this law do not apply on the domain or facility or a personal electronic account, whose user is not characterized to be of specialized professionalism.

Article 12 states that the license applicant for a site or electronic information facility must deposit a KD500 guarantee at the ministry’s treasury within 60 days from the date he gets informed of approval of the license. He can submit an unconditional bank guarantee in the name of the ministry, instead of the cash guarantee.

Article 14 states that any license rental will be null and void, and cannot be sold or waived without prior approval from the ministry, and the buyer or the person who receives the waiver must meet the conditions mentioned in this law to issue the license.

Article 17 stipulates that the responsible manager for the site or electronic information facility is responsible for the violations of the rules of this law by the content, and he must seek accuracy and credibility in all what he publishes concerning news, information and data.

He must publish, free of charge, any reply, correction or denial he receives directly or indirectly from the ministry or other government entities, or from any judicial or natural person, or who represents him legally, whose name is mentioned or indicated in writing, drawing or symbol, published in the site or the electronic media facility, on the date the concerned party or those concerned decide, in the same place and same method, language and size the material in question was published.

Article 18 states that the sites and electronic media sites governed by the rules of this law, cannot publish, broadcast, rebroadcast, send or quote any content that contains any of the forbidden material mentioned in Articles 19, 20 and 21 of Law Number 3 of 2006, and Article 11 of Law Number 61of 2007.

Article 19 refers to punishment for publishing online without an e-media license: The article states that the concerned court will fine everyone who practices any of the activities mentioned in this law without a license or violates any of the rules in it with a minimum of KD500 and a maximum KD5,000, and that the site could be blocked permanently.

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