Bahrain rejects use of social media for official messages

Notification through e-mail has been accepted and other electronic methods removed from the proposed list

  
Photo used for illustrative purpose. Members of parliament are seen during a closed door session during weekly parliament session in Manama.

Photo used for illustrative purpose. Members of parliament are seen during a closed door session during weekly parliament session in Manama.

REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed

A divided Shura Council has delayed allowing co-operative societies to conduct official work and inform board members of general assembly meetings electronically.

Parliament earlier this month carried out amendments to the 2000 Co-operative Societies Law that would enable notification of meetings through the normal registered mail in addition to any and all social media applications.

However, Shura’s services committee has rejected the move, only adding e-mail to the list and removing other electronic methods.

Its recommendation was passed by the narrowest of votes during yesterday’s weekly session and the proposal was referred back to parliament for review.

“Leaders of countries around the world, and ministers here, use WhatsApp, Instagram, Twitter and other apps to convey their messages and communicate with others,” said Shura chairman Ali Saleh Al Saleh.

“In future, invitations through such programmes would become a regular practice and just confining it to registered mail and e-mail is us fighting the imminent.”

Mr Al Saleh asked for feedback from public utilities and environment affairs committee vice-chairman Ali Isa, who is an (Information Technology) IT expert, on the safe usage of social media applications for invitations.

“It is easy to know who accepted (an invitation) even if they use the hide tools because most programmes are designed in a safe way to enable identification and when members will register their accounts to receive alerts about meetings, they would be doing so knowing they should expect something,” explained Mr Isa during the session.

“If they claim they didn’t receive in this app, they would be receiving in several others, besides e-mail and registered mail – should the societies want to continue on this old expensive method.”

However, Parliament and Shura Council Affairs Minister Ghanim Al Buainain said such applications were subject to piracy, hacking and tampering.

“Restricting it to e-mail, the most secure and heavy duty file transfer programme, is not to limit electronic means but to ensure accuracy and privacy as members not only receive invitation but also financial and administrative attachments before attending a meeting,” he said.

“People don’t use Twitter to invite others to meetings and such programmes are easily subject to piracy, hacking and tampering so they shouldn’t be included.”

Meanwhile, World Book Day, which falls today, will be marked by the Shura Council.

It will celebrate the occasion with organising committee head and Shura member Dr Mansoor Sarhan announcing that since His Majesty King Hamad took leadership of the country in 1999, 2,450 books were produced by Bahraini writers, poets and scholars.

He added that it was an increase compared with 1,502 between 1900 and 1990.

Work papers on the occasion will be presented by Shura’s foreign affairs, defence and national security committee chairman Dr Mohammed Al Khozaie and member Dr Ahmed Al Arrayedh.

The issue was discussed urgently during yesterday’s weekly session by the chairman.

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