Project summary brochure
Title: Regional harmonization of cyber legislation to promote the knowledge society in the Arab world
The development of regional directives that promote the harmonization of ICT legislation and regulations contributes to building the groundwork for an enabling environment by facilitating and accelerating the use of ICT applications. In turn, this will lead to growth in the ICT sector by: (a) fostering the generation of small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) in the region; (b) minimizing problems relating to ICT market segmentation; and (c) promoting the use of ICT applications in social and economic activities. By promoting competitiveness and economic diversity, these improvements will help remedy serious problems affecting the economies of the region, namely brain drain, capital drain, unemployment and low productivity.
ESCWA’s Information and Communication Technology Division (ICTD) has already started working towards the regional harmonization of ICT legislation and regulations. In 2007, it produced a study entitled “Models for Cyber Legislation in ESCWA Member Countries”. The study reviewed the status of regional and international cyber laws and used examples of legislative principles to illustrate the benefits and challenges of enacting more comprehensive and more regionally integrated cyber legislations. Currently, two case studies aimed at evaluating the status of cyber legislation in two ESCWA member countries and at finding ways to harmonize them are being conducted.
To help with the creation of an enabling environment for the ICT sector in the ESCWA region and the Arab world, potentially benefiting 22 countries, further work on the subject is required. This additional work will result in a set of directives and guidelines that will help the various countries of the region harmonize their legislative framework by reviewing and analyzing the experience of the European Union as well as that of other regions and countries and by highlighting the benefits of a regionally harmonized legal framework. The work will encompass various domains and subjects that include laws and regulations for telecommunications, intellectual property rights, e-signature, e-commerce, cyber crime, data protection as well as privacy and consumer protection on the Internet.
ESCWA will take the lead in the implementation of this work/project and will execute the project’s activities in close coordination with government organizations (Ministries of Communication and Information Technology and Ministries of Justice) and specialized partners such as national and regional ICT societies and lawyer syndicates. In addition, ESCWA will coordinate with the regional organizations such as the League of Arab States for potential collaboration.
Objective of the project
To enhance the regional integration and strengthen the capacity of member countries to develop the information society and build a strong and sustainable ICT sector through the development of appropriate legal and regulatory frameworks.
1. Raising awareness of policy and decision makers on modern legislation related to building the information society.
2. Providing a basis for harmonization of legal and regulatory frameworks related to the information society in the ESCWA member countries, based on model directives.
The activities planned for this project, to be carried out within 24 months, are the following:
A1 Produce a report that will: (a) identify major areas of concern to the ESCWA member countries; (b) update the status of cyber legislation in the Arab region (c) propose framework for the regional harmonization of cyber legislation in the Arab World.
A2 Organize an expert group meeting involving governmental and non-governmental organizations as well as the private sector to review proposed directives, and agree on the structure and content of a manual to be produced for practical dissemination and application of these directives.
A3 Based on the international experience mainly the European Commission Directives, produce a set of directives which: (a) Comprise text model of cyber laws that may easily be implemented at the national level; (b) Cover a variety of 6 areas; (c) Include a set of coherent definitions of all legal terms used in the set of directives; (d) Include a detailed introductory statement of the fundamental purposes and guiding principles
A4 Organize two sub-regional workshops to provide hands-on training to policy and decision makers on reviewing national laws and regulations and harmonizing them at the regional level.
A5 Provide advisory services to ESCWA member States, as well as other Arab countries at their request, on drafting legislation and regulations in harmony with model directives.
A6 Organize a seminar on the legal and regulatory requirements for a sustainable knowledge society in the Arab region, to review the results of the harmonization process at the regional and sub-regional levels and provide recommendations for sustainability, initiating a virtual community of practice network at the regional level.
A7 Promote and assist in the establishment of a virtual network of governmental, private sector and NGO institutions concerned with ICT sector promotion. This activity is to set a strong basis for the sustainability of the project, through helping various stakeholders exchange knowledge and interact after the completion of the project. Continuous harmonization of cyber legislations in the region is necessary for the success of the project after it is technically completed.