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Jordan: A Black Day to Protest Internet Censorship

Jordanian websites have gone offline today [August 29, 2012] in protest against proposed government censorship plans and new restrictions on the Internet.

Hundreds of websites have gone black, in order to draw attention to the new legislation and its dangers. The sites have a black background, with a note which reads:

You may be deprived of the content of this site under the amendments of the Jordanian Press and Publications Law and the governmental Internet censorship

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.

In response, 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. And this Jordan blackout campaign is one of its efforts to draw attention to the state of the Internet should Jordan be allowed to curtail people's freedom online with new laws.

According to 7or ya net:

The draft was swiftly sent to the Parliament, and it was discussed during the extraordinary session on Sunday 25th of August. A second hearing will be held on Thursday the 30th of August. This is why we’re holding this blackout and need your support.

The campaign is having wide support across Jordanian platforms. Jo24.net says [ar] that more than 750 websites have joined the campaign.

On Twitter, web entrepreneur Ahmed Humeid announced at midnight, just as the campaign started:

@humeid: Over 150 sites in Jordan are going black, including the country's top new sites, to protest laws that restrict internet freedom #blackoutjo

He continued:

@humeid: Not just news sites, but major business sites are joining the internet blackout in jordan. #blackoutjo #FreeNetJo

And Aramran Web TV warned:

@aramram: Support #freenetJO or enjoy #blackoutJO the rest of ur life

Screen shot of the Jeeran homepage in black

Screen shot of the Jeeran homepage in black in protest against new laws which aim to restrict the Internet in Jordan

All day, sites advertised their support for the campaign. Here is one example:

@Jeeran: #Jeeran is supporting the blackout and going black against a censored Web in #JO http://jo.jeeran.com #BlackOutJo #FreeNetJo #Amman

And those who didn't join the campaign will face a backlash from activists.

Web/mobile technologist Razan Khatib tweets:

@razano: I unfollowed @khaberni because they didn't join #BlackoutJo #freenetjo

To follow the story, check out the Twitter hash tags #BlackoutJo and #freenetjo

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