Egypt's President Sisi ratifies new internet control law

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi at a  press conference in Cairo in December 2017.

(CNN)Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi signed a new law on Saturday tightening the government's control of the internet, state media reported.

Aimed at combating extremism, the Anti-Cyber and Information Technology Crimes legislation prohibits the "promotion of the ideas of terrorist organizations" and allows authorities to block websites deemed by judges to be threats to national security.
It also bans the dissemination of information on the movement of security forces and imposes strict punishments for hacking government information systems, according to the state-run Al-Ahram newspaper.
    The legislation was originally approved by the Egyptian parliament in May.
    Since taking power in 2014, Sisi's government has been criticized for blocking critical voices in the media and scrubbing digital content. Nearly 500 websites have already been blocked in Egypt since May 2017, according to the Cairo-based Association of Freedom of Thought and Expression.
    A man carries a newspaper bearing the portrait of President Sisi in Cairo on April 2.
    The country's parliament has also passed legislation strengthening the government's ability to target social media in its continued efforts to crackdown on dissent. This includes categorizing social media accounts with more than 5,000 followers as public websites and therefore worthy of surveillance.
    "Every day we receive reports about people from all levels of Egyptian society who have been persecuted for Facebook posts, tweets, art work, and even personal, unpublished writing that has fallen into the hands of the Egyptian authorities," Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International's director of campaigns in North Africa, said in a statement in July.