Quick one. Apropos the oxymoron of Omani Freedom of expression. What is it - if it exists?
Omani freedom of expression? Especially with respect to the internet and on-line forums, blogs, etc?
Muscati linked to a recent nice piece from my local IT lawyer of choice BlueChi*
Photo: Omani Internet star: Blue Chi
On line responsibility is real. No-where can you just say what you want. With good reason. Defamation is real, and should - rightly - be controlled by the law. In Oman, for instance, even the dead can be slandered (though not the UK/USA), and when convicted of a crime in an Omani court of law, apparently your identity still cannot be legally publicised! (which come to think of it, might help explain the lack of a court report in the local media).
And in Oman, slander remains a criminal rather than a civil issue. Why? As BlueChi mentions:
...In Oman, and many other countries, this right [UD: of freedom of expression] is restricted by some other legal principles such as defamation and breach of confidence. Defamation is generally defined as the act of spreading false information about a person which could harm that person’s reputation. This law is much more stricter in Oman than in some other places like the UK or the USA as defamation is a criminal act and not merely a civil matter. In addition to this, there is no clear requirement in the law for the statement to be false for it to be offensive, but merely requires it to have the consequence of damaging that person’s reputation.
The law in Oman is fuzzy at best, and hugely immature wrt legal precedent. It's time to clear this up, Ministry of Legal Affairs. What is legal freedom of expression these internet days? Some of the stuff being published on the Arabic and English Omani forums is waaaaay out there. What's legal? What isn't?
How does Twitter fit in?
No-one really knows.
We really need some public debate on this. And some resulting improvements to the law.
(*I used to have a link to BlueChi on the blog roll, but truth be told: he suffered heavily from an attack of professionalism, twitter addiction, and low productivity blog-wise).