The Free Internet Project


Summary: Algeria's Constitution recognizes rights to free speech and privacy, but such protections are often infringed in practice. The threat of imprisonment encourages users to practice self-censorship online. The government monitors people's emails and use of social media, especially Facebook. Algeria does not have data protection laws, ISP safe harbors, or a legal requirement for net neutrality.

Internet freedoms:

(1) Free speech  

Article 41 of the Constitution provides: "The freedoms of expression, association and assembly shall be guaranteed to the citizen." [English text]

Despite these free speech rights, journalists reported harassment and intimidation from the government especially related to reporting criticism of the government or President. Articles 144(b), 144(b.1), and 146 of the Penal Code make it a crime to offend the President, the Parliament, the military or any other public institution--a crime which is punishable up to three years in prison.  [Text]  The Cybercrime Law of 2009 grants law enforcement the power to block websites “contrary to the public order or decency,” although the provision has not been used yet. [French text]

(2) Privacy

Article 39 of Algeria's Constitution provides: "The private life and the honor of the citizen shall be inviolable and protected by statute. The secrecy of correspondence and private communications, in all their forms, shall be guaranteed." [English text]

Despite the privacy protections guaranteed by the Constitution, there is serious concern regarding online surveillance in Algeria.  The government extensively monitors people's emails and use of social media, particularly human rights activists' use of Facebook.  

Algeria does not have a comprehensive data protection law or the right to be forgotten.

(3) Access 

Algeria does not guarantee a legal right to Internet access.  According to 2013 ITU figures, Algeria has an Internet penetration of only 15.2% with 6,284,489 users. However, a government minister stated that Algeria had 11 million users in 2013.

ISP safe harbors: 

Algeria does not have ISP safe harbors.  ISPs can face criminal prosecution for hosting any material “incompatible with morality or public opinion.” The Ministry of Justice, the Ministry of Interior, and the Ministry of Post, Information Technology, and Communication enforce the Cybercrime Law. Penalties includes sentences of 6 months to 5 years in prison.

Net neutrality:  

Algeria does not have a legal requirement of net neutrality.