Iraq legislating cybercrime law to combat fake news
ERBIL (Kurdistan 24) – The Iraqi Ministry of Interior and judiciary are now legislating a law to combat the increasing spread of fake news and “rumors”, a top official said on Monday.
In the absence of a specific law, the Iraqi authorities are relying on Law No. 111 of the 1969 Penal Code to deal with cases of fake news and rumors, Nibras Ali, the head of the Rumors-Combating Department at the ministry, told Iraqi News Agency.
While the bill is in its initial development phase, it will include clauses that deal with “rumors”, he added.
The official said authorities had brought those accused of spreading disinformation to the judiciary. He did not specify how many.
The ministry has established a dedicated department to monitor social media networks for fake news.
Following the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s regime, Iraqis gained unprecedented access to uncensored internet and mass media, which are believed to have facilitated the spread of disinformation on a rapid scale.
Politicians and public figures regularly issue “clarification statements” in response to news and information they describe as “biased, baseless, and fake”. During the electoral campaigns, the phenomenon becomes exacerbated with political rivals sometimes deploying such tactics to smear their opponents.
Per a real-time dashboard from the Baghdad-based Tech4Peace non-governmental organization, Facebook is the top social media network in the country on which “fake news” is disseminated.
The NGO tracks popular pages and accounts on social media accounts to debunk rumors and counter the spread of misinformation.
Per Iraqi criminal law, anyone accused of spreading misinformation or “rumor” during wartime can face up to 10 years imprisonment.