Afghanistan enacts law to control cyberspace

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani. (Reuters)
Updated 10 July 2017
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Afghanistan enacts law to control cyberspace

KABUL: Afghanistan’s President Ashraf Ghani has signed into law a cybercrime bill targeting online crime and militancy by groups such as the Taliban and Islamic State, officials said Monday, amid concerns it could limit free speech.
The Cyber Crime Law criminalizes a range of online activities including hacking, spreading ethnic hatred, distribution of online defamatory speech, exposing government secrets, and cyber-terrorism within the provisions of the newly reviewed penal code.
“The law has 28 articles and it is going to control all cybercrimes. All criminals will be tracked and referred to courts,” Najib Nangyal a spokesman for the ministry of communication said.
While much of Afghanistan remains deeply rural, over 8.5 million Afghans are using the Internet in big cities such as Kabul, Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif, most of them vocal on social media such as Twitter and Facebook.
The guerrilla war waged by militants and grisly video footage of war casualties, torture, hostage victims and destruction compete daily with celebrity gossip and the latest sports news in Afghan online communities.
The Taliban, who previously rejected all modern technology, have developed a media-savvy online PR team using Twitter, Facebook and the Internet, posting statements, breaking news of the latest attacks and taking responsibility for assaults, though their claims are often wildly exaggerated.
Their efforts pale globally in comparison to the Daesh group, which has actively exploited social media to lure thousands of foreign fighters to Syria and Iraq, and which is making gradual inroads in Afghanistan.
“We are trying to make a cyber police team to track the criminals. The government is also working to track, list and block all the militants’ online accounts,” Nangyal said.
However, media watchdog group Nai warned the law could have a detrimental effect on access to information in Afghanistan, which was ranked 120th out of 180 countries in the 2017 World Press Freedom Index compiled by Reporters Without Borders.
“After reviewing law we reached the conclusion that the law will limit the freedom of speech,” Nai said in a statement, which also criticized the wording of the legislation as “vague.”


Police investigating cause of 'minor explosion' at north London underground station

Updated 1 min 4 sec ago
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Police investigating cause of 'minor explosion' at north London underground station

LONDON: A small number of people have been treated after a minor explosion was reported at a tube station in north London, police said.
The British Transport Police said that there were no reports of serious injuries and their enquiries continue to find out what caused the minor explosion at Southgate station. 
British Transport Police tweeted: “Southgate Tube station is currently closed whilst officers respond to a suspicious package"
The Metropolitan Police said in a statement: “Police were called at 7.03pm on 19 June to reports of an explosion and people running at Southgate underground station.
“Met officers remain at the scene along with colleagues from British Transport Police, London Fire Brigade and London Ambulance Service.
“Cordons are in place and the station is closed.