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Government bill seen as opening way to online censorship

(RSF/IFEX) - Reporters Without Borders is very concerned about a new culture ministry bill that aims to ban certain websites as its scope is too vague and it needs to be more clearly defined. The bill is due to be examined by parliament shortly.

"We are very worried about the abuses that will be possible under this bill as a result of vague and imprecise wording," Reporters Without Borders said. "It is legitimate to want to regulate the Internet sector but it would be unacceptable if this proposed law were to restrict freedom of information."

The government wants to step up control of website content and Internet cafés. "All websites that glorify terrorism and incite violence and sectarianism, or those that violate social morals with content such as pornography will be banned," communications ministry spokesman Sameer Al-Hasoon was quoted as saying. The Iraqi Journalistic Freedom Observatory said the bill would open the door to tighter control of political debate and issues that are regarded as sensitive by the government.

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