Posting rumors on social media during elections “crime”

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KUWAIT CITY, Sept 16: Two Kuwaiti legal experts have confirmed that any rumor published through the social media platforms during the elections is a punishable act forbidden by the law.

In separate statements to KUNA, they said that laws related to fighting cybercrimes or election code forbids any act that might negatively affect the elections, including practicing influence on voters’ will. In this regard, Lawyer Dr. Hussain Al-Abdullah said that the law criminalizes any act that can be used to affect the voter’s choices; punishment can reach five years imprisonment.

According to law No. 35 of 1962 and its amendments, punishable acts include threats, bribery, the broadcast of false news that can affect the candidates reputation, dignity and financial integrity, in addition to the modernized trends of criminal influence through latest technology and communication.

These acts can be punished according to Law 37 of 2014 regarding the Communications and Information Technology Commission, and Law 63 of 2015 regarding Information technology crimes. On her part, the Professor of constitutional law in the National Assembly Hanan Al-Dighisham said that the law guarantees the exercise of the legitimate freedom of expression and defines the punishable actions.

“With the development of media and publication that differs from the traditional paper publication, the Kuwaiti lawmaker has issued number of new laws that coincide with the latest updates in media sector”, Al-Dighisham added. Many laws have been issued in this regards including the publishing law, the audio-visual media law, the electronic media regulation law, the electronic media regulatory authority law, the information technology crimes law, and the misuse of telephone communications devices.

As for the cybercrimes related to the National Assembly elections, the Kuwaiti law stressed the importance of the integrity of the electoral process and protection of candidates and voters, she noted. She pointed out that Article 43 of Law No. 35 of 1962 on the National Assembly elections states that offenders are punished either with “a penalty of imprisonment not exceeding six months and a fine not exceeding 100 dinars, or one of these two penalties” (KUNA)

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