Freedom of Speech Declining in Jordan

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Major changes in the Jordan Press and Publication law will negatively affect freedom of speech online in that country. Here’s some of the changes that occurred in the law:

  • Any website with a specific URL on the Internet that provides publishing services, including news, reports, investigations, articles, and comments…is considered an “electronic publication” and will be subject to the new law—and not only Jordanian websites. This might include: Facebook, Google, and the New York Times.
  • Mandatory registration if any of the specific points mentioned above are tackling internal and external issues related to the Kingdom of Jordan. They will be obliged to register and get permission from the manager of the press and publication department.
  • Any owner, editor or director of an electronic publication has 90 days to register after they receive the announcement through the press and publication department, and an announcement will be published on two local Jordanian newspapers for any websites managed from outside the country.
  • The press and publication department is allowed to shut down all the websites that didn’t get their permission, and censor their publications, in addition to paying a penalty between 1000 and 5000 JD ($1400-$7000).
  • The owner, editor, and director of an electronic publication will share responsibility for comments and are obliged not to publish any “unrelated to the subject” comment, or if the truth is not checked yet in the comment, or if it violate any “Jordanian law.”
  • Owners, editors, and directors of an electronic publication are obliged to keep the comments for at least six months.

Unfortunately, this law was approved and in practice starting September 19, while many people “reject this law that threatens press freedom and online expression,” said Mohammad Ghneim to Now Lebanon of the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists. Information minister Samih Maayatah defended the law: “The law protects people’s rights by ensuring that freedom of expression is practiced in a responsible manner,” he told AFP.
Note: Sources of some information has been translated from Arabic and an article from NOW Lebanon.


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