KUWAIT: A new law regulating all Web-based publications including electronic news services, bulletins, websites of newspapers and televisions and alike came into effect yesterday after its bylaws were published in the official gazette. Information Minister Sheikh Salman Al-Humoud Al-Sabah said the law is foe professional online media in a bid to preserve Kuwaiti traditions and counter extremist ideology.
The minister urged all those running online news services to register on the ministry website to obtain the necessary license to operate in the country. Under the legislation, all these services must obtain a license from the government before they can operate. Those in existence have one year to comply with the law. Violations committed by these services will be looked in court under the press and publications law, which stipulates hefty jail terms for several offences.
During its debate in the Assembly in January this year, the minister insisted the law is aimed at regulating electronic media and it will not apply to personal accounts, like those of bloggers. Under the law, the owner and director of all online services must be Kuwaiti. Violations can be penalized by jail terms of up to 10 years if these services call for the overthrow of the country’s regime.
In another development, the lower court will look on July 27 into a lawsuit calling to stop the ministry of public works from demolishing a historical mosque situated on a road project site in Kuwait City. The decision to demolish the 123-year old mosque came under fire from MPs and activists, who strongly criticized the government for failing to save the mosque. The court will decide if the demolition can be stopped or at least delayed until the issue is carefully studied.
MP Saleh Ashour yesterday sent a series of questions to Interior Minister Sheikh Mohammad Al-Khaled Al-Sabah about an online campaign by two clerics to raise funds for Yemen’s Dammaj city. The lawmaker asked the minister if he had taken any action against the two clerics for launching the fundraising campaign without a government license. He asked if the minister had referred them to the public prosecution for interrogation.
By B Izzak