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Jordan: Say No to Internet Censorship

Jordan is slipping into a black hole, with new restrictions on Internet freedom being approved by the government today [August 22, 2012]. First, the government gave the go ahead to block websites. Now, a new Publications Law, which allows for more control and censorship over the Internet, has also been approved as a draft.

According to Al Ghad newspaper [ar], the Jordanian government approved amendments to the Publications and Press Law, which now require the owners of websites to register with the government and obtain a license, “just like any other publication.” Owners of websites will also be made responsible for the content of comments published by readers on their sites.

The draft law will now have to be approved by Parliament to become an actual law.

Jordanian blogger Moey shares a series of videos protesting recent moves to censor the Internet in his country.

Moey's post is entitled Say No and the body of the post reads:

Not writing a single word, watch and judge!

Here are the videos:

This is ‘censored Moey':

Here's ‘censored Sarah':

And this is Omar, after he has been censored:

On Facebook, Jordan's former ICT Minister Marwan Juma addresses a letter to the Jordanian government. In it he says:

I have an obligation to speak up! Not because I ran the first company that brought email to jordan, or was one the founders of Jordan’s REACH initiative, and not because I recently served as Minister of ICT, but because what is taking place in our sector, namely the attempt to censor the Internet, is simply wrong if not bone-headed!

Among the reasons he gives for his refusal of censorship are:

1. It doesn’t work!

Countries who tried to block sites failed and failed miserably! It costs millions and simply doesn’t work!

Juma adds:

2. There are laws in place already!

There is a cybercrime law in Jordan that specifically addresses the issue of promoting pornography to minors with stiff penalties and jail terms! And this is the real threat here and it already has been addressed. So why complicate matters now?

And continues:

3. Where do we draw the line?

First it starts with porn and then it could evolve to other sites or issues that are deemed offensive! We are opening a pandora’s box here that will be impossible to close. And if we block sites do we want to block email that contains adult images and videos? Or block satellite TV that contains nudity? Where do we draw the line here?

He concludes:

Let us keep the Internet open and free and maintain Jordan's position as a vanguard in the IT industry and protect our image as a country of openness and tolerance.

Check out the link above for the rest of Juma's arguments.

7or ya net

7or ya net: Jordanian netizens are encouraged to use this image as their profile picture in social media to protest against Internet censorship

Also, a new blog named 7or ya net (You are free, Internet) [ar] has been launched to protest against the government's attempt to censor the Internet and spread awareness about filtering and freedom of speech.

In its latest post [ar], the site says:

في الربع الثاني من عام ٢٠١٢، بدأ الحديث من قبل الحكومة الأردنية ومجموعة من المواطنيين عن نيتهم تمرير قوانيين وقرارات لحجب المواقع على الإنترنت على اساس أن محتواها يشكل خطورة على المواطنيين. وبالفعل قررت الحكومة الأردنية مؤخراً تطبيق سياسة حجب المواقع والوصاية الحكومية بأن أصدرت قراراً لحجب المواقع الإباحية، كمدخل سهل لتمريربسط سلطتها التقديرية في منع مواقع لأسباب “يشكل محتواها خطورة على المواطنيين”
In the second quarter of 2012, the Jordanian government and some citizens started talking about their plans to approve laws which would censor sites on the Internet under the pretext that its content posed a danger to people. In fact, the Jordanian government has lately implemented its policy to block sites and instill the government's custody over people by issuing an order to block pornographic sites. This is an easy excuse to use its power and block sites “whose contents pose a danger to people.”
قطاعات كبيرة من المواطنيين وشركات تكنولوجيا المعلومات والمحتوى الرقمي ترى أن سياسة حجب المواقع والوصاية والرقابة الحكومية على المحتوى الموجود على الانترنت تعطي الحكومات صلاحيات كبيرة لا يمكن ضمان عدم إساءة إستعمالها ضد مواطنيها وهدر حقك كمواطن في حرية التعبير وتلقي المعلومات والشفافية، والإستفادة من خصائص شبكة الإنترنت في كونها شبكة مفتوحة متصلة ومرفق عام لجميع الناس ليبدعوا ويشاركوا ويتحاوروا مع بعضهم البعض
A lot of people and information technology and digital content companies view the government's censorship, custody, and monitoring of the Internet as an attempt to give it [the government] far reaching powers which we have no guarantee the government would not abuse and take away your right as a citizen to freedom of expression, accessing information, transparency and benefiting from the characteristics of the world wide web, which is an open interconnected web, and a public space for people to share their creativity and engage with each other.

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