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Applications Open for “Abtal el-fada’ el-raqmi”

Tue, 2017-07-25 10:00

The program is open to applicants residing in Lebanon only
Application deadline was extended to: August 13, 2017

للقراءة باللغة العربية

SMEX is launching a new program to empower youth with the knowledge and tools needed to safely navigate the internet. “Abtal el-fada’ el-raqmi” (أبطال الفضاء الرقمي) aims to create a community of tech-savvy youth committed to using the internet for social change, and we’re inviting you to become a part of it!

If you’re interested in learning about digital security, acquire transferable skills, and engage in productive discussions and debates on issues ranging from privacy to online harassment, then this is the program for you! We’ll be hosting a number of hacklabs, or community-operated spaces, where you can meet and collaborate with like-minded individuals in a fun learning environment.

You know you’re a suitable candidate for this program if you’re curious about how the internet works, and/or if you’re invested in making it a safer place and see yourself as a future leader in either technology or human rights online.

“Abtal el-fada’ el-raqmi” will start on August 16 and last until October 28, 2017.

Apply if you’re between the ages of 16 and 22 and can commit to attending every hacklab from 11 am till 6 pm.

Apply Now


Welcome event (6 -8 pm) August 16, 2017 Hacklab 1 August 19, 2017 Hacklab 2 September 2, 2017 Hacklab 3 September 16, 2017 Hacklab 4 September 30, 2017 Hacklab 5 October 14, 2017 Hacklab 6 October 28, 2017

Cost: Free of charge for our future digital heroes

Where: SMEX offices, Badaro

How: Fill out the application below right away, space is limited

Extras: We’ll provide lunch and give you plenty of breaks to mingle with each other

Your active participation will earn you a certificate from SMEX. You will also become a part of a tight-knit community of digitally savvy youth with additional opportunities to attend events, film screenings, and workshops organized by the SMEX team.

Limiting Palestinian Free Speech Online is no Solution to Cybercrime

Fri, 2017-07-14 16:45

Roundtable discussion on “Media Freedom in Palestine,” Palestine Liberation Organization headquarters, Ramallah, July 13, 2017 (MADA).

Palestinian human rights and civil society organizations have called for a freeze on the recently publicized cybercrime law that was approved by Palestinian Authority (PA) President Mahmoud Abbas on June 24, 2017.

In a press statement released by the Palestinian Center for Development and Media Freedoms (MADA), the new law was criticized for its potential violation of “public freedoms, freedom of expression and the right to privacy.” Member of the Union of Palestinian Journalists’ General Secretariat Nabhan Khreisheh expressed to Al-Quds Al-Arabi his concern that the law will hinder constructive criticism of the political system out of fear of the consequences. In addition to jail sentences ranging between 3 and 15 years, violators of the law could also be fined up to US $7,000.

SMEX translated three of the cybercrime law’s articles to convey the urgent need to halt its implementation, which will stifle free expression online and threaten civil and political rights.

  • Article 51 of the law states that, “If a crime is committed online and harms ‘national unity’ or ‘social harmony,’ it will be punishable” by hard labor, ranging between three and 15 years, a sentence impacting all those who partook in the crime.
  • Articles 32 mandates internet service providers to cooperate with security agencies by collecting, storing, and sharing users’ information data for at least three years, in addition to blocking any website on the orders of the judiciary.
  • Article 40 allows the Attorney General or one of his assistants to request the court to issue an order to block any website within 24 hours.

In the context of the increasing restrictions on press freedoms, MADA’s general director, Musa Rimawi, noted that a number of journalists have been arrested and 29 news sites were blocked in the West Bank in the past few months. This law heightens and legitimizes these violations, which could grow under cover of the judiciary.

SMEX joins Palestinian organizations in condemning this cybercrime law and echoes the call to enact a new law that respects the right to unhindered speech online and the free flow of information while protecting internet users from the real threats they face, including extortion and fraud.

You can view the PA’s new cybercrime law on the website of Palestinian radio station 24FM. We encourage you to follow the development of our Arab Digital Rights Dataset to learn more about regulations affecting online users in the 22 countries of the Arab League.

Innovation for Change, in Partnership with SMEX, Seeks a MENA Hub Coordinator

Tue, 2017-06-27 09:15

Innovation for Change supports new and established approaches to promote, strengthen, and connect a vibrant, pluralistic, and rights-based civil society in open, closing, and closed spaces through the establishment of demand-driven and cutting-edge virtual hubs that support the development of civil society in their regions, by helping civil society organizations develop and utilize innovative approaches that address the development challenges they are facing. The MENA Hub has recently been launched and is recruiting a hub coordinator to help operationalize hub activities and services.

SMEX, a Beirut-based media development and digital rights organization and an incubator of the MENA Hub, will host the hub coordinator at its premises and facilitate their interaction with the stewards of the global helper hub, CIVICUS and Counterpart International, as well as with other members of the hub across the region.

In addition to implementing governance structures and developing hub systems, the hub coordinator will explore new partnerships with like-minded entities, such as coworking spaces, social entrepreneurs, and other groups, and ensure timely and consistent communication among incubators on the progress of hub development.

Key Responsibilities

  • Ensure the implementation of the MENA Hub’s mandate. Responsible for the overall design, implementation, monitoring and evaluation, and reporting of all programs undertaken by the hub
  • Populate and update the MENA section of the Innovation for Change website
  • Develop and establish working relations with local and regional service providers and consultants, human resources planning and management
  • Liaise with like-minded organizations for cooperation and support to the hub on local and regional levels
  • Supervise the financial management of the hub, including financial planning, budget monitoring, procurement and financial reporting respecting grant procedures.
  • Work with the innovation for Change Helper hub grant manager and staff to prepare comprehensive budgets and narrative reports.
  • Coordinate the establishment of the governance structure of the MENA Hub with the incubators and formalize the hub structure-
  • Provide the incubation team with comprehensive, regular reports on the activities and expenditures of the hub and its requirements


  • A bachelor’s degree in a relevant discipline (e.g., social sciences, law, politics, economics and human rights). A post-graduate degree is an asset
  • At least 3-5 years of progressive experience in running and implementing projects
  • Knowledge, skills and abilities in: leadership and management principles, human resources management, financial management, and project management
  • Exception internal and external communications skills, verbal and written, and networking skills
  • Well-developed editorial and digital literacy, including familiarity with Google Docs, Slack, Asana/Trello, blogging platforms, and social media
  • Demonstrable knowledge and understanding of the architecture of human rights organizations, in the MENA region
  • Fluency in English and Arabic is a must; a working proficiency in French is highly preferred
Preferred Qualifications
  • Experience in one or more of our core content areas: technology and the internet, human rights, advocacy, and activism
  • Familiarity with HTML/CSS and the fundamentals of digital security
  • Can travel, if necessary


The initial contract will be for a period of 4 months, with the possibility of renewal. We aim to have the hub manager in place between July 31 and September 5, 2017.


Compensation is commensurate with experience.

Application process

To apply, submit a CV, a one-page motivation letter explaining your interest in this position and your qualifications for it, as well as contact details for three current references, with “MENA Hub Manager” in the subject line, to by Friday, July 7, 2017. Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Regional Beirut Workshop Agrees to Cooperate on Right to Information

Thu, 2017-06-15 14:07

A regional workshop on the right to information held in Beirut from 8-9 June 2017, bringing together participants from Algeria, Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Yemen, and hosted by Social Media Exchange, the Centre for Law and Democracy and International Media Support, has agreed to create a regional network of right to information activists. This commitment was contained in a Workshop Statement adopted by participants.

The workshop provided an excellent opportunity for activists to discuss challenges with moving forward on the right to information in the region”, said Toby Mendel, Executive Director of CLD. “It is very encouraging that it managed to agree a framework for ongoing regional discussions and consultations on this important issue.

The Statement highlighted the human rights status of the right to information, as well as the fact that only five Arab countries have so far adopted right to information laws and that even in these countries implementation has generally faced headwinds. It called on States to ensure that a strong legal framework for the right to information was in place and then to engage in robust implementation of that framework.

The commitment that we witnessed in Beirut to promote the right to information and to make it a reality by engaging in collaborative work demonstrates the high value of regional exchanges,” said Virginie Jouan, IMS Sub-Regional Head for Maghreb. “IMS will remain a partner in this participatory process led by rights defenders from the MENA region.

Importantly, the Statement also included a general commitment by civil society participants to continue to work together to promote the right to information. As part of that, participants specifically committed to, “creating a regional network of civil society and other advocates for the right to information to share ideas and experiences and to promote intra-regional cooperation.”

The workshop couldn’t have come at a better time for Lebanon, as we have a new access to information law”, said Mohamad Najem, Co-director, SMEX. “The Statement gives us ready-to-tailor messages about the benefits of the right to information and a kind of model framework that we can use to both test the law and monitor implementation.

The Statement is available in Arabic and English.

For further information, please contact:

Toby Mendel
Executive Director
Centre for Law and Democracy
+1 902 431-3688
twitter: @law_democracy

Virginie Jouan
Sub-Regional Head, Maghreb
International Media Support
+45 52 10 78 07
Twitter: @forfreemedia
Facebook: @InternationalMediaSupport

Mohamad Najem
+961 71190310

Lebanon: Authorities Failing to Protect Freedom of Expression

Fri, 2017-05-26 13:52

Selman Samaha Facing Unfair Trial Following Facebook Posts

للقراءة باللغة العربية

Lebanese authorities are failing to abide by their obligations to protect individuals from unfair trials and to ensure their right to freedom of expression, nine human rights and media organizations said today, following yet another criminal investigation of a Lebanese citizen for posts made on Facebook.

Mr. Selman Samaha was called for investigation by the Military Police in Mount Lebanon on October 27, 2016 following posts on his Facebook page regarding the Lebanese military. Following interrogations, the Military Tribunal summoned Mr. Samaha to appear on May 26, 2017 on charges of “offending the reputation of the military institution,” which carries a maximum penalty of three years in prison. Referring the case to a military tribunal violates Mr. Samaha’s right to a fair trial. The military tribunal cannot provide guarantees of impartiality and independence, and does not protect his due process rights.

The case of Selman Samaha is only the latest in a series of arrests, investigations, and trials of citizens for expressing political opinions on social media, threatening the right to freedom of expression in Lebanon. Since 2016, similar cases have included those of Nabil el-Halabi, Bassel el-Amin, Hassan Saad, and Ahmad Amhaz.

The undersigned organizations express their concern over the prosecution of Mr. Samaha, since he is being tried for acts falling under his fundamental right to freedom of expression and in violation of fair trial principles. Lebanese security services and prosecutors should abide by human rights standards, specifically the obligation to protect individuals from unfair trials and to ensure the respect of their fundamental rights and freedom of expression.

Signatory Organizations:

ALEF – act for human rights (ALEF)

Alkarama Foundation

Lebanese Center for Human Rights (CLDH)

Foundation for Human and Humanitarian Rights – Lebanon (FHHR-L)

Human Rights Watch (HRW)

Legal Agenda

Media Association for Peace (MAP)

Samir Kassir Eyes – Center for Media and Cultural Freedom (SKeyes)

Social Media Exchange (SMEX)

A Breakdown of the Proposed OGERO Internet Speeds and Prices

Wed, 2017-04-26 14:45

The First Humanitarian Mapathon, organized by Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontier), held at Masaha, Beirut, April 17, 2017 (SMEX/Lara Bitar)

للقراءة باللغة العربية

After OGERO conducted tests in various areas of Beirut over three days and increased the internet speed of its subscribers, OGERO’s Director General Imad Kreidieh said the network is ready for greater internet capacity and speed. The Ministry of Communications’ internet price reduction plan is based on uncapped speed and is expected to be approved by the cabinet (view Table A).

Download/Upload Usage Limit (GB) Speed Price Current Plan 100 GB 8 Mbps L.L. 100,000 New Plan 150 GB Uncapped Speed L.L. 65,000

Table A: Capacity and speed under the current plan and the proposed plan

Residents living at least 1,500 meters away from the OGERO central offices (COs) will benefit the most (view Table B). Fiber optic cables will be used for houses 2,000 meters away from OGERO’s COs, but this project is expected to take about two years to complete.

Current Plan New Plan Distance from Ogero COs Speed Speed 800 m 10 Mbps 50 Mbps 1500 m 7 Mbps 15 Mbps 2000 m 2 Mbps 2 Mbps 3000 m 1 Mbps 1 Mbps

Table B: Increased speed, based on the distance from OGERO’s COs.

Note: The information used in this article is based on a report by the Lebanese Broadcasting Corporation (LBC).

*This article was translated by Talar Demirdjian.