Qatar government backs tighter online media codes

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Qatar’s government has backed new Internet codes that widen controls over news websites and online commentary after similar clampdowns by other Gulf Arab states.

Western-backed Gulf nations have sharply increased arrests over social media posts on charges that include insulting rulers. Stronger media laws also have been placed in many Gulf countries as officials worry about growing opposition linked to the Arab Spring.

Qatar’s measures would give wide leeway to punish websites or social media users for items considered a threat to “state security” or the “general order.” It outlaws any news, video or other posts that violate the “sanctity” of a person’s private life, even if the report is true.

The official Qatar News Agency said Thursday the draft law now goes to an advisory council for final approval.

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