A Sad Day For Online Free Speech In Jordan

I don’t know anymore. I would say it’s a sad day, but I can’t remember one that wasn’t. Long story short, the Jordanian government is going on, what can best be described as, an anti-online free speech jihad. A decision has been made to monitor websites (most likely including the rising popularity of blogs) and to keep them in check with the country’s notorious press and publication laws. This is the legacy that the Prime Minister Bakhit will be leaving behind.

Khalaf is right. To think, this particular government went from having its opening song be “let freedom ring” to a swan song that begs for no encore to follow.

In the weeks that followed the Amman bombings there was this whole new and promising environment, most likely as a response to the fear of social discontent following such a tragedy. Ironically, not only have those promises of new freedoms been broken, but the situation has actually worsened. See, the government firmly believes that by silencing people, everyone will be happy. It’s about the same as clamping down on a pressure cooker to silence the steam whistle that is just going berserk.

So what do we do?

One idea is to create a website that monitors the government’s actions online. Monitoring the monitors.

Big Brother Watches?

Little Brother Watches Back.

[hat tip: maha]

Thought Is Free...

53 Comments

  1. حكومه غير شرعيه وغير منتخبه لا يحق لها ان تسرح بصرصور، الي متي هذا الشعب سيقبل بهده الخزعبلات والمهتارات ؟؟؟؟

  2. Who saw this coming?

    wow, and I used to pride myself with the Jordanian government’s online free speech policy.

    What’s next? ATV was suspended and now this?

  3. Who saw this coming?

    wow, and I used to pride myself with the Jordanian government’s online free speech policy.

    What’s next? ATV was suspended and now this?

    Nas, are you monitoring these comments? cause my comment did not appear the first time :D

  4. I say no one can actually monitor this kind of media… Everyone can publish what they want in “imaginary” Characters… let them spend more millions in vein!!!

  5. I am afraid mkilany that just using nick names isnt enough. its easy to follow your ip address to your house and bust your a**.

    OK this is very alarming Nas, ia m very upset. how long is it going to be before we hear about the first blogger arrest? you know well that this happened in many countries this far, Syria, Egypt and Iraq among others.

    What do you really think we should we do Nas?

    who do you think would be the first arrested blogger?:D

  6. Naseem, this just shows you how lazy our current government is. Besides the fact that this legislation takes us back to square one. (Some journalists started blogs to escape being censored in traditional media). Ye3ni for God’s sake, give us some courtesy and at least draw up a special bill for online media. But khalas, they didn’t even want to put the least amount of effort, and just decided to pass the same regulations that apply to print media on online media. Of course, as the norm goes in Jordan, after 10 years, some decent Minister who actually understands what blogging is all about would try to change the law. But that normally happens just when its a bit too late.

    Oh and by the way, there are two watchdog groups in Jordan. One is part of the Abu Mahjoob forum, and the other is part of the Free Thought Forum (we’re still working on it actually); let me know if you want more information.

  7. ATTENTION JORDANIAN BLOGGERS. YOUR BEST PROTECTION AGAINST REPRESSION IS TO MOVE YOUR BLOG TO GOOGLE BLOGS. IT’S HTTPS, MEANING IT’S ENCRYPTED AND SECURE. ANYTHING ELSE IS OPEN TO SNIFFING AND EAVESDROPPING BY THE DARK FORCES.

  8. Be prepared guys for a big battle when one of us gets suspended or jailed for his blog opinion. I am sure that if our government is smart enough, they wouldn’t dare mess with us. We have a very strong blogsphere, and we are ready to defend our freedom of speech.

  9. LOL @ The observer … a very strong blogsphere thats ready to defend freedom of speech does not do what took place earlier this year when one blogger was removed from the pervious aggergator because of its anti-governmental posts!! Majority of those i am with freedom of speech gang supported that removal and many of them are among the commenters here !! Give us a break, hypociracy is somethign iam personally fed up with ..

    Nasim,
    My personal worry goes mainly to Hajjaj un-published cartoons; all those strong contervirsal cartoons he posted on mahjoob.com and not in newspapers ethier because they were not allowed to be published or he saw they are too much to published are under the law now (oh the thoughts i have ).. i guess now we’ll go back to secretly circulating strong cartoons through hidden groups .. hushhh

  10. To Tulip, if my memory didn’t betray me, I remember The Observer as one of the few bloggers who stand without hesitation defending freedom of speech against the censorship of a VIVA’s magazine article, and against removing the two political bloggers -I forgot their names- from the Jordan’s blogs aggregator, and against removing the gay blogger from Qwaider planet.

    Not only should the government allow more the true freedom of speech but sadly also our public, both they think freedom of speech is your right to speak as long as you don’t disagree with their believes.

  11. Husams,

    My comment was about the blogsphere stand back then not observer personal stand. Back the few bloggers refused the removal and more were against the removal generally but okay with it in those cases and the majority was okay with it(some called it a democratic action); i simply dont believe that this a crowd that represents defending freedom of speech like what the observer said.

  12. هيئة شباب كلنا الاردن الفرسان الفرافير

    This is just incomprehensible.

    The king calls for free speech, the government monitors blogging.

    The king calls the younger generation the “knights of change”, the government take the free speech outlets away.

    The king spend his time visiting under privileged regions, the government spends the money building unnecessary stuff in Amman.

    Who runs stuff around here ?

  13. I’m pretty sure the main concern is not really bloggers themselves, but people who comment, and I wonder how they’re going to censor and monitor this!! With bloggers and online media, it’s only common knowledge that the General Intelligence Directorate has been monitoring the Jordanian blogosphere for at least two years now!! Now it’s just becoming more “public” with the Press and Publication Department assuming part of the authority. What we’ve been seeing lately is lots of comments, not just on blogs but on those online news sources like Ammon News, where commentors cross what has been usually deemed “red lines”.

    Anyways, I agree with those who said; let’s wait and see how they will actually manage to catch up and how exactly they intend to carry out this new form of censorship! One concern is that the Jordanian blogosphere has long been plagued with high levels of self-censorship, any more than that and we might be better off not writing in the first place!

  14. This decision, along with sabotaging ATV, is in preparation for the government’s planned “management” of the parliamentary elections. All un-tamable outlets capable of scrutinizing government action are being taken care of.

  15. Let them monitor nas, fe ktheer garab sayer. people rebellious w mesh 3aref esh, sorry to disappoint you all.. I like being monitored at least el kelmeh btosal

  16. Hello , I know this is completely off-subject so sorry but does any know where I can buy a good dog in Amman?
    Thank you

  17. How about an online demonstration, perhaps someone can draw up a protest letter/slogan type thingy. And all the Jordanian (and even perhaps Arab/International) bloggers, websites, online news sources etc… Can post them on the same day as a protest?

  18. I am suggesting that the money would be paid for the monitoring employees to be paid to poor people in Jordan Mr prime minister!!!, by the way what about monitoring the water and the shawerma before monitoring people my friend thats a better idea.

  19. Why are people so worried? I’d say, except for a handful of bloggers, the Jordanian blogsphere is hardly a challenging forum for the government! on the contrary , the Jordanian blogsphere is, basically, a feel-good, get-together for the elite, pro-government, slogan-toting community. The miniscule minority that challenge and criticize the “red lines” are already under a watchful eye. Tulip has mentioned earlier how the main Jordanian aggregator was forced to kick those rouge elements out to avoid trouble, clearly someone high up didnt like the exposure these rebels got on a Jordnain aggregator and did something about it, The Blogsphere back then chose to fall in line, wether due to fear or collusion witht he government,that was the day that this bill has passed, people chose to stay silent, and today the fruits of this action are ready and ripe for the picking.Those rebels are the ones that need to worry about the new bill and the commentors on the blogs, not the rest who have a governmental stamp of approval. A little breathing room is allowed here and there, some pressure valves,and some legitimate cases where the government can score some popularity points, but non of the critical and vital cases are ever approached. One of the comments above clearly even welcomes censorship.
    It is truly disheartening to see how blindly loyal our youth has become to the proper line drawn for them by big brother.

  20. لقد حان الوقت بي أن نصرخ بصوت واحد، فل الاتحاد قوه امام حكومه ليس عندها الثقه ولا الشرعيه ولا حتي نقطه من المصداقيه،أذا كان عناضمير وشرف يجب علينا ان نقف وقفه أنسانيه ضد مشريعهم الهامله والمشبوها،لايمكن أن نسمح لهم بسحب حقنا وشطبو والذي هواحقنا الطبيعي والقانوني ،لقد وللي عصر الدكتاتوريه والبلطجه والضحك علي اللحه،أنتم تستحقوا حكومه تمثل كل انسان عاش وعايش علي أرض هذا الوطن،لازم يشكرو ربهم علي أناس مثلنا بفكرو ليلا ونهارا بي أبحار هذا الوطن الي الشوطئ الائمنه،الله يخزيهم علي المشاكل ألي وقعونا فيها علي مر السنين….

  21. It seems surprising that people are surprised by this event. The concept of freedom lies in Hollywood movies to give people a false hope because the reality we are living in is far from freedom. This country (Jordan) will follow the global power play that seeks to control humanity and guide the people towards whatever they are told to do.
    George Orwell’s 1984 world is here, but the majority are not seeing it! You are not free, you’d like to believe it though. There is another freedom, and that is what you can fight for in your mind, body and soul. It is very hard, but it still is a reality within the smoke screen reality we are bombarded with daily.

    Fight for your mind

  22. This is outrageous! Next thing you know it, what happened in Egypt will happen here with bloggers being arrested for sharing their views and letting people know what is actually happening in the country.
    The reason we raise our voice and give our opinions is to try to make a difference, to try to be a catalyst for positive and constructive change. We don’t criticize for the sake of it, we don’t attack the government because we want to be rebels; we do so in the name of free speech and in order to make people know, understand and act.
    If the main stream media is so busy trying to please the government, who will stand up and show the corruption, inequality, poverty and backward mindness that we are all experiencing.
    Silent, we shall not be!

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