Amendments to the press and publications law restricting online expression in Jordan were passed by parliament today [September 12, 2012]. Simultaneously a demonstration was held by activists and journalists in front of the parliament as a majority of MP's voted for the bill.
An improvised coffin plastered with the words “Freedom of the Internet” was carried by activists signalling the anticipated death of the Internet in Jordan. Participants wore black to the funeral-themed demonstration.
The approved law must still receive ratification from the upper house of parliament as well as approval by King Abdullah II, who retains supreme authority and whose signature is the seal of approval to all legislative matters. Member of Parliament, Jamil Nimri, who voted against the bill, in addition to the head of the journalists syndicate, attended the protest and claimed that such laws serve only to restrict freedoms and muffle the voices of the people.
The new law allows for more control and censorship over the Internet. It requires 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.
Outrage over the proposed law has been simmering for a while and netizens had already staged an online campaign to draw attention to the new law and its repercussions.
On Twitter, netizens expressed their dismay at such a bill.
Mohamed Al Qaq tweets [ar]:
He shares this photograph, right, from the protest.
Nizar Samarri adds:
And @godotbasha asks:
@godotbasha: So if I draw parallels between Jordan and police states vis a vis #censorship law I can be subjected to persecution? #freenetjo
Hisham Al Balawneh tweets:
And Hanin Abu Shamat states:
@HaninSh: What's with the #FreeNetJO drama? The Senate (Upper House) has to approve it first… I trust our Senators and not our useless MPs. :) #JO
@Shahzeydo: With one regressive law Jordanian bureaucracy puts a leash on Jordan's knowledge economy. ‘Brilliant’ Govt logic in a recession. #FreeNetJo”
And Majd Yousef continues:
Fadi Zaghmout comments:
While Mohamad Shawash warns:
مش قادر اعبر اكتر عن امتعاضي – مجلس النواب الأردني انتو لعبتو بالنار
Bashar Zeedan links the new attack on the freedom of the Internet to the Jordanian Spring. He says:
And Omar Qudah adds:
Omar Kamel sees the Parliament's decision as a signal to boycott the elections:
Activists launched a petition on Avaaz.com under the title “Save the internet”, which called on King Abdullah II, the minister of information and members of parliament to repeal the amendments to the press and publications law.
Human Rights Watch also published a report on the latest bill passed by the parliament and the restrictions that are to be imposed on Jordanian websites, titled “Jordan: Moves to Censor Online Expression.”