The Lebanese blogosphere and twittersphere is in an uproar over the restrictive E-transaction bill that is scheduled to be voted on by Parliament this Tuesday,,here are but a few examples of the general sentiment surrounding this highly charged issue: The Beirut Spring, Plus 961, and Independence 05..
According to the movement to Stop This Law’s Facebook Page,
The ESSA (Electronic Signatures and Services Authority) was established under this law with discretionary, selective, subjective and very broad and unjustified powers, beyond the objectives of the law and its functions. Its prerogatives are almost repressive for all “service providers” of electronic services and economic sectors at large
ESSA staff are given the powers of law enforcement (ضابطة العدلية), without any judicial oversight. A number of relevant ministries such as Ministry of Economy, Telecommunications and Finance are marginalized with a clear conflict of powers with the ESSA.
ESSA is given regulatory powers, and operational powers meaning that it can regulate and operate at the same time. There are many contradictions and ambiguities in many of the legal concepts and language.
These observations and other observations in the drafting details (please see the Private Sector Comments document), are preventing this law from performing its desired function. This will result in a negative impact on the economic activity and investment panorama, due to the unjustified restrictions and unusual constraints that the law is putting on vital economic sectors in Lebanon.
Admittedly, it took me a while to understand the ramifications of this bill, as I don’t often read legislative documents, much less Lebanese legislative documents, and cannot comprehend how a government wouldn’t want to tap into the enormous potential of the internet?!?!?
Among the articles of concern are (thanks to Naeema’s flickr account):
* Article 92, saying anyone providing online services must apply for a license. Result: More paperwork, more bureaucracy, more delays, less revenue.
* Article 82, allowing for the warrantless search and seizure of financial, managerial, and electronic files, including hard drives, computers, etc. Result: The government has pre-approval to seize your company and personal assets and information, without cause.
* Article 70, establishing the Electronic Signature & Services Authority, a new regulatory and licensing body with practically unchecked powers. Result: Another agency, who can make or break your organization at their whim.
So.. instead of following the global trend of deregulation..the government has, once again, opted to implement a set of archaic laws which will do nothing but hamper Lebanon’s ability to compete in an increasingly global market place and tap into the wealth of the internet…
Way to go!
As I was writing this my friend showed me this month’s edition of WIRED magazine,
If you haven’t already, join the movement to Stop This Law on facebook..as well as on twitter with #stopthislaw, and by informing your family and friends about this issue!