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Egypt to fine creators of weather misinformation

The Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee of the Egyptian Parliament approved a draft law to reorganize the Egyptian Meteorological Authority, which included imposing fines on those who publish false information about the weather.

A fine of no less than LE 50,000 (US$1,617.88) and no more than LE 5 million ($161.8,000) is set for anyone who publishes any incorrect meteorological or weather information on social media, or issues meteorological data, bulletins, or studies and attributes them to the authority.

This comes with the aim of reducing losses resulting from publishing false news or spreading inaccurate data, which may harm the economy.

Since its establishment by a republican decree 52 years ago, the EMA has remained without legislation regulating its work, until the Egyptian government decided to prepare a draft law for the authority, in response to the recommendations of the Arab Meteorological Committee of the Arab League.

A member of the Parliament’s Tourism and Civil Aviation Committee Emad al-Dargali said that the committee finally approved the draft law, with the aim of improving the quality of meteorological services, attracting foreign investments and encouraging scientific research in meteorology.

He added that the law regulates issues of licenses, approvals, fees, how to collect them, and technical specifications for practicing activities in the field of meteorological services and establishing or operating meteorological or marine meteorological stations.

The draft law will be referred to a vote before the plenary session of the house, he added.

Dargali explained that the draft law regulating EMA included in its Article No. 13 the penalties prescribed in the event of providing meteorological services without a license from the authority, in order to address false news about meteorology that may cause harm to the national economy.

He noted there are pages on social media and news sites that publish inaccurate news about the weather, as well as spread rumors about economic issues.

The former head of the EMA, Ahmed Abdel-Aal, said that the aim of the draft law is to regulate all matters and procedures of the authority, and to create the legislative environment to provide meteorological services in a way that improves their quality.

Abdel-Aal explained that many non-specialists have been observed publishing meteorological news under various names, including meteorological activist, and these parties publish inaccurate news about the weather, causing confusion and spreading rumors among citizens.

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