The new law fills a long-lasting gap in Morocco’s legal system and updates the Moroccan judiciary to match modern technological developments.
The council approved the law on Thursday, March 19, during their weekly meeting, after reviewing the technical and ministerial committees’ studies on the bill.
Minister of Justice Mohamed Benabdelkader submitted the bill in order to provide a legal framework for Morocco’s fight against emerging patterns of cybercrime, and fake news without prejudice to the constitutionally guaranteed freedom of digital communication, as part of the freedom of speech act.
Law 22-20 will align the national legal system with the international standards adopted in the field of fighting cybercrime, especially after Morocco ratified the Budapest Convention on Information Crime on June 29, 2018.
The new law covers several objectives, including legal protection of digital communication freedom, along with the documentation of the various forms of crimes committed online, especially those affecting public security or presenting harm to individuals.
The law also tackles crimes targeting minors, defines the procedures to address illicit electronic content, and stipulates the sanctions against cybercrime.
The enactment of law 22-20 comes amid a surge in fake news about the spread of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) on Moroccan social networks.
In recent weeks, Moroccan police arrested a large number of people across Morocco for spreading false rumors about COVID-19, with the aim of planting fear and panic among Moroccan citizens.
One of the latest arrests took place on Wednesday, March 18, against a Youtuber with nearly half a million subscribers, known as “Mi Naima.”
Police arrested the 48-year-old woman in Fez for sharing a video on her YouTube channel claiming that COVID-19 does not exist and encouraging Moroccans to not follow the precautionary recommendations set out by Ministry of Health.
Morocco has confirmed 61 COVID-19 cases so far, including two recoveries and two deaths.