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SKeyes Center for Media and Cultural Freedom - Samir Kassir Foundation

E-Government Mapping: Overview of Lebanese GovTech Readiness and Respect for Citizen Privacy

Source SmartGov
Monday , 15 November 2021

Since the end of 2019, Lebanon has been on the confluence of severe crises: the economic collapse and its subsequent social implications, the COVID-19 pandemic, and the meltdown of trust in and legitimacy of public institutions. Since the emergence of Information and Communication Technologies (ICT), e-government initiatives have flourished and public sectors have recognized the potential of using ICT as a tool for improving quality and responsiveness of government services. Digital tools have emerged at so many levels as efficient, flexible solutions to gather data about people’s needs, work under lockdown measures, identify households that are most at risk, and register for vaccines, among others. Yet, most of these tools do not observe the most basic privacy rights of citizens, and have not been developed using coherent methodologies, which creates its own range of interoperability challenges.


E-government has a significant role in improving service delivery and has the potential of greater efficiency, revenue growth, less corruption, increased transparency, more convenience, and cost reductions of public sector operations. The importance of identifying the performance, privacy practices, and the security of e-government cannot be overemphasized. In developing countries, the establishment of e-government is still in its early development and most of these countries have not been entirely successful. In fact, according to Dada (2006), the majority of e-government initiatives in developing countries fail. This may be partly due to the individual country’s complex nature, lack of resources as well as sociocultural and other challenges that need to be addressed.


Lebanon is a parliamentary democracy, with a population of about 6.7 million people of whom 78.18% are Internet users. The beginning of its e-government development can be traced back to early 2000. The Lebanese government required each department to have a presence on the web. This was to allow public access to information and enhance service delivery. Government initiatives have continued to be realized through ICT tools such as the Internet. Furthermore, In 2002, the Office of the Minister of State for Administrative Reform (OMSAR) published the National ICT Policy and Strategy for Lebanon aiming to outline the vision for use of ICT nationally. The strategy is a blueprint to integrate ICT for the whole government including institutions, agencies, processes, resources, and policies. This plan describes the system of governance that should be reinforced to make its implementation possible and sustainable. The United Nations' E-Government Development Index for 2020 ranked Lebanon 127th among 193 countries worldwide and 148th in e-participation. This places a demand for the government to provide an environment that ensures openness, efficiency, and security in service delivery and spaces for greater competitiveness. With the increased demand and expectations, the government must move from a non-integrated path of ICT development to an e-government development. Moreover, several government websites of different departments were already developed with a total number of more than 560. However, there is a lack of empirical studies on the local e-government level. In fact, results have indicated a clear absence of significant information and resources on the web that could augment the quality of service delivery and the respect to privacy and security standards.

This research, conducted by SmartGov with the support of the Samir Kassir Foundation, surveys the current status of security and digital rights on e-government platforms for Lebanese public administrations. 701 searches yielded 572 eligible government platforms, which were analyzed against 26 basic and advanced criteria relating to security, ownership, jurisdiction, and protection of user data.


The findings have revealed several important implications. Most of the government’s platforms were found to be in the early stage of e-government development. This implies the apparent need to strengthen the e-government initiatives and to take their development as a priority. Hundreds of municipalities have no independent websites yet; instead, the basic information is usually placed on a separate section on privately owned/managed domains. Considering current e-government regulations which require online transactions and the provision of services, several municipalities and cities are still far behind the realization of e-government goals. In general, the government should be able to provide the public with services online such as applications, transactions, and other forms of citizen engagement.


The unsecure status of 80 government websites, 38 of which request user data for various services, presents an urgent security problem that needs to be addressed immediately.


Drawing up from the data and results, this study has offered an additional contribution to e-government development. We were able to provide a peek into the current setup of e-government in Lebanon by identifying its quality and respect to basic and advanced privacy and security standards. Thus, through this study, the central government can draw e-government plans based on the assessments which can help in identifying the areas where improvements are needed, especially those that require more infrastructure support.




Mostly outdated technology and lack of sufficient infrastructure; Most of the software contains security vulnerabilities; and UX/UI designs need to be updated and further developed


Lack of comprehensive services, responsiveness, data availability; Low user-friendliness in website design; Low service quality; General absence of privacy policies and terms and conditions


Lack of top management support; Lack of management’s interest in e-government; Lack of employees’ training; Lack of IT and software human resources; Lack of dedicated offices or units and e-government goals within the organization; Lack of cooperation between offices

Regulatory Compliance

Lack of awareness and implementation of existing government laws and regulations related to privacy policy, digital rights and other e-government regulations

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