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Jordan: MPs Drafting a Law which requires Website Passwords

A new electronic sites law is being reviewed and drafted by the Jordanian Parliament which requires website administrators to provide their site's passwords to the government's Printing and Publication Directorate. In case the admins refuse, says the draft, the sites will be closed down by the concerned authorities. Blogger Osama Romoh reacts to the news in this post [Ar].

Exasperated with the news, Romoh sarcastically writes:

ماذا يا نواب؟ لماذا لم تطلبوا أيضاً كلمات سر الفيس بوك الخاصة بأصحاب تلك المواقع، وكذلك المسنجر والياهو مسنجر والـ Hi5 واشتراكاتهم في يوتيوب و Flickr وإيميلاتهم على Gmail و موقع مكتوب وأسماء أمهاتهم وأخواتهم وعماتهم وخالاتهم وجيرانهم وأصدقائهم ومن والاهم إلى يوم الدين؟ لماذا يا نواب لم تطلبوا “بالمرة” قياسات بناطيلهم وقمصانهم وأحذيتهم وجواربهم و… ؟
Why are you doing this Members of Parliament? why don't you also ask for the passwords of the Facebook accounts of the administrators of those sites? Why don't you ask for the passwords for their Messenger and Yahoo Messenger and their Hi5 and their contributions to YouTube, and Flickr, and their emails on Gmail, and blogs on Maktoob, and the names of their mothers, sisters and aunts, and the names of their friends and neighbours, from now until the end of time? While you are at it, why don't you parliamentarians demand to know the size of their trousers, and shorts, and shoes and socks and …?

Using logic, he argues:

إنّ ما يطلبه النواب الآن هو من سابع المستحيلات، فإن أصغر طفل يملك بريداً الكترونياً يعي كل الوعي أن كلمة سر بريده لا يجب أن يعرفها أحد غيره في جميع الأحوال، فكيف يتوقع النواب أن يخضع أصحاب المواقع الإخبارية لقرار يُجبرهم على تقديم معلومات الدخول لصفحات التحكم في مواقعهم إلى دائرة المطبوعات والنشر؟ إن لكل موقع أسرار وخصوصية، خصوصاً فيما يتعلق بالإحصائيات وتعليقات الزوار والإعلانات وما إلى ذلك، فأي عاقل سوف يُسلّم مفاتيح موقعه لأي جهة كانت؟
What those MPs are asking for is the impossible. Even the youngest child who owns an email account realises that his password shouldn't be shared with anyone else, no matter what. How can those MPs expect that the admins of news sites will accept their order to submit the passwords which give control to their sites to the Printing and Publications Directorate? Every site has its secrets and privacy, especially information related to statistics, readers comments and advertisements, etc. Who is the sane person who will surrender the key to his site to any one, whoever it may be?

Turning to readers and commentators, Romoh notes:

وكيف سيشعر الزائر في هذه المواقع بالحرية أثناء القراءة أو التعليق إن كانت
دائرة المطبوعات والنشر قادرة على معرفة معلوماته الشخصية؟
How will visitors feel free on those sites while reading and commenting, when the Printing and Publication Directorate will be able to find out their personal information?

The blogger adds:

وفي حالة رفض هذه المواقع تلك المطالب، كما سيحدث حتماً، فما هي الآلية التي سيتخذها النواب لإغلاق هذه المواقع؟ إن أوباما وهو رئيس أقوى دولة في العالم لا يحق له في أن يصدر أمراً بإغلاق هذه المواقع فبأي حق وبأي منطق يطلب النواب ذلك؟
In case the site admins refuse to comply which such orders, which will no doubt happen, what are the mechanisms those MPs will take to close down those sites? Obama, the President of the strongest country in the world, has no right to issue orders to close down any websites. What right and what logic are those MPs using to issue such an order?

Romoh then appeals to the MPs to guard his country's reputation in the eyes of the international community and spare Jordan further embarrassment:

إن الأردن لا يحتمل المزيد من الانتقادات الدولية حول حقوق الإنسان والتعبير وحرية الصحافة بشتى أنواعها.. لذا يكفيكم أيها النواب أن تضعوا الأردن في موقف حَرِج أمام العالم، ويكفيكم أن تضعوا أنفسكم في مواقف محرجة لا تُعدُّ ولا تُحصى أمام الشعب.
Jordan is not in a position to face international criticism on human rights and freedom of Press and expression .. therefore MPs should stop embarrassing Jordan in front of the rest of the world. MPs should also stop putting themselves in such embarrassing situations in front of the Jordanian people.

5 comments

  • I always thought Jordan was more liberalized. Has the use of twitter and other social media sites caused panic with Mid-Eastern governments?

  • Oh this is ridiculous. Is this for real? or is it some kind of a twisted late aprils-fool?
    I know our MPs do not get elected based on merit, rather based on family name and wallet size. But nevertheless, you would still think they have a shred of common sense in their swollen heads.
    This is a serious attempt at limiting personal freedoms, and stifling freedom of expression. I can only draw comparisons between what the MPs are trying to do, and the technological crackdown that is happening in Iran today.
    Our MPs should hear how stupid this legislation is from the get go. We can not stand on the sideline here, while they steal our online identities as well.

  • xushi

    “….. to guard his country’s reputation in the eyes of the international community and spare Jordan further embarrassment”

    Sorry to bust your bubble, but that’s long been done.. a *long* time ago.. There is no dignity in Jordan to be spared in the first place… so don’t worry too much about that.

    Sadly, i speak the truth

  • This piece of news is not verified at all, it’s only mentioned in one website “Ejbed”. It might be correct but it has not been verified or reported by any other news media.

  • That is shocking, whatever happened to freedom on the world wide web if passwords are no longer safe?

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