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Parliament postponed on Tuesday voting on an ICT law one month and has instead referred the proposal to the subcommittee headed by MP Ahmed Fatfat to reconsider some of its articles.

The law had created a stir in the latest session of parliamentary committees because it calls for forming the Electronic Signature & Services Authority with wide powers over the ICT sector.

MP Ghassan Moukheiber opposed the formation of the authority because he considered it a legal authority with the right to view any document or have unlimited power in controlling online services.

The daily Al-Akhbar reported that if it were approved then the Lebanese will be living in what would feel like a security state that would interfere in the smallest detail of their personal lives.

Al-Akhbar added that despite efforts to make the law comply with reforms needed in electronic banking, the real “catastrophe” in it becomes clear from Article 69 onwards.

Activists took great efforts on Monday to highlight the drawbacks of the law through social media websites and contacting various parliamentary blocs.

Among the articles of concern are:

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.

Professor Ghassan Karam wrote in Ya Libnan: “Yet out 128 clowns and what passes for a cabinet are doing their best to drag us back into the stone age and to take away one of the very few windows of fresh air that we have. ” He was referring to the 128 members of parliament

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