Egypt seeks to establish clear and specific rules for the protection of children on the Internet through developing a legal and legislative framework in accordance with the provisions of international conventions, specifically the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child of 1989; the Optional Protocols to the Convention on the Sale of Children; Child Prostitution and Child Pornography (OPSC); and the Protocol to Prevent, Suppress and Punish Trafficking in Persons Especially Women and Children, supplementing the United Nations Convention against Transnational Organized Crime.
Egypt provides children online protection through two legislative systems; namely,
A. Targeted legislative texts, including legal articles dealing with the issue of child online protection
B. Indirect legislative protection, through legal provisions aimed at protecting Egyptian society as a whole, especially children
1- Targeted Legislative Protection
The most important legal texts to be listed in this category is Article 116-bis (a) of the Child Law No. 12 of 1996, amended by Law No. 126 of 2008. The article is considered a pivotal point in strengthening the legal approach for protecting Egyptian children from all sorts of online harms and abuses.
Any person importing, issuing, producing, preparing, displaying, printing, promoting, acquiring or broadcasting any pornographic materials involving children or are related to children sexual abuse shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than two years and a fine at no less than ten thousand pounds and at no more than 50 thousand pounds. Tools and equipment used to commit such crime and money resulted therefrom shall be confiscated. Moreover, places used in such crime shall be closed for at least six months, without prejudice to the rights of third party bona-fide.
Notwithstanding any sever punishment stipulated in any other law, the same punishment shall apply on the following:
a) Anyone using the computer, Internet or animation to prepare, keep, process, display, publish, print or promote any pornographic materials or activities that are related to instigating or exploiting children in prostitution and pornography or to slandering or selling such children
b) Anyone using the computer, Internet or animation to instigate children to go astray, commit or to carry out illegal activities or pornography, even if no crimes did occur
The National Committee on Child Online Protection, presented some amendments on this article to the legislative committee of the National Council for Childhood and Motherhood (NCCM).
2- Indirect Legislative Protection
In this context, there is a number of laws and articles that seek to protect members of the society as a whole, especially children, or criminalize child trafficking and exploitation in general, not specifically online. Those articles that regulate the use of technology tools to prevent illegal usage that may encourage online crimes, covering those against children, include:
- Article 178 of the Penal Code: (Article 178 did not mention children explicitly).
Whoever makes or holds, for the purpose of trade, distribution, leasing, pasting or displaying, printed matter, manuscripts, drawings, advertisements, carved or engraved pictures, manual or photographic drawings, symbolic signs, or other objects or pictures, in general, if they are against public morals, shall be punished with detention for a period not exceeding two years, and a fine of not less five thousand pounds, and not exceeding ten thousand pounds, or either penalty.
- Law No. 10 of 2003 Telecommunication Regulation Law
The Law regulates the provision of any telecommunication networks or any telecommunication service, thus legalizing the role of Internet Service Providers (ISPs) that play a vital role in protecting children online, and fines any ISP that violates those regulations. According to Articles 72, 73, 74, 75, 76, 77 and 86, any person provides a telecommunication service without a license from the National Telecom Regulatory Authority (NTRA), broadcasts, publishes or records telecommunication messages without licenses, or discloses any information related to telecommunication networks users, intentionally disturbs or harasses others by misusing of telecommunication devices shall be punished by imprisonment or a fine.
- Article 95 of Law No. 150 of 1950 - Criminal Procedures Code
This article gives the judge the right to give an order to monitor wired and wireless conversations or make recordings of conversations held in a special place if this was to provide an evidence in a felony or a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment for more than three months.
Although the Internet was not yet in use during the issuance of this law (1950), the legislator demonstrated a valuable foresight by including wired and wireless means of communications.
- Law No. 120 of 2008 for Establishing Economic Courts
These courts have a jurisdiction over criminal cases related to economic activities and investment operations. They cover those cases related to ICT technologies, including online crimes. Some measures were taken including:
a. Databases Procedures: The General Administration of the Child Judicial Protection (GACJP), which is institutionally affiliated to the Ministry of Justice, amended the criminal database for children's issues to include Internet crimes in 2010.
b. Capacity Building Procedures: Cybercrime issues were added to the capacity building curriculum prepared for judges and prosecutors at the “National Centre for Judicial Studies”.
Several specialized trainings for judges and prosecutors were conducted in cooperation with cybercrime and child safety experts in international organizations and ICT multinationals. For instance, a workshop for judges on “cybercrime and child abuse” was organized by the National Centre for Judicial Studies (Cairo) in cooperation with the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), Microsoft and the Council of Europe in December 2009. Two courses were offered in 2011 about electronic criminal evidence for 200 judges and 200 prosecutors, organized by the Ministry of Justice in cooperation with Multinational Corporations (MNCs). This is in addition to numerous courses offered, in the past few years, by ICT companies to the Ministry of Justice.