March 12th: The World Day Against Cyber Censorship & Jordan

 Likely one of the most pertinent issues of our time and our specific region, Reporters Without Borders and Amnesty International are launching the second annual World Day Against Cyber Censorship. Last year, if some of you recall, RWB put together an interesting, 24-hour virtual demonstration.

This year, RWB have updated their annual list of “Internet Enemies” to include Saudi Arabia, Burma, China, Cuba, Egypt, Iran, North Korea, Syria, Tunisia, Turkmenistan, Uzbekistan and Vietnam. On it’s “Under Surveillance” list, Jordan is thankfully no longer on it.

It’s been an interesting year for cyber space in Jordan, with the King’s vision of the Internet as a type of “safe haven” for free speech in the Kingdom becoming more solidified in various public declarations. The Internet is generally unfiltered and uncensored, yet this past year has marked the rising dawn of the electronic news sites, and in the coming years, the state is truly going to be tested for just how much free speech it can withstand. Internet penetration is set to rise and that’s when more people online will translate to more people reading online and thus a potential increase in regulation. That’s when the King’s words will truly be put to the test and the state’s actions become more reflective of reality.

As of today, people are still at risk of running in to trouble for something they’ve said online. There is no legislation to get their backs and even constitutional protections are vague if not inapplicable. In other words, that constant fear has precedent, and is therefore justifiable. So Jordanians are right to follow it instinctively. Partially.

That being said, perhaps our bigger problem at this point isn’t so much state censorship as it is self-censorship. It isn’t so much about what the state accepts now, but how much it will accept.

And that is a test that only Jordanian bloggers, writers, journalists and anyone armed with a keyboard can give.

We are at a point where the state isn’t being tested to the extent of which it should when it comes to free speech online, and those boundaries need to be pushed. As Jordanians, we should be taking the opportunity to use the net in a manner that allows us to critically analyze our country from a political, economic, social and cultural perspective – constantly.

Few Jordanian bloggers are doing that these days, and only one or two electronic news sites (despite their sensationalist-tendencies) are attempting to do that.

Perhaps we’ve forgotten what others all over the world, and predominantly in our very region, are fighting for on a daily basis: the right to speak. Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Tunisia and Syria are 4 of 13 countries listed as Reporters Without Border’s “Internet Enemies”, with Bahrain, Yemen, and the UAE representing 3 out of 11 “Under Surveillance” nations of the same list. Think about those numbers for a minute.

Filling cyber space with golden platitudes of blind praise and flag-waving commotions is at best a disservice to one’s country, and at worst, an insult to the generations that preceded us who were told to remain mute, and were made to suffer to ensure their silence.

Everyday is an opportunity to speak.

So don’t waste it.

Say something.

23 thoughts on “March 12th: The World Day Against Cyber Censorship & Jordan

  1. I have recently sensed a change in your tone. You are becoming what you’re preaching in this post. I sincerely applaud your courage. However, although more and more is being analyzed and talked about on the internet, meaningful decision making is still being done by those in the old guard. Furthermore, when the younger generation get into fist fights over tribalism on college campuses in Amman and Irbid, you kind of lose hope that Jordan will finally shed its tribal induced corruption and become a country of laws and institutions.

  2. Good post, Nas. Thanks for the reminder that today is World Day Against Cyber Censorship. Thank goodness there are those who are young enough and unattached enough to risk what we old complacent folks find it hard to do. I appreciate that you put your piasters where your mouth is…

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  4. if the king said the internet is a “safe haven” for free speech then its done.

    i want to discuss something here.
    now you have this blog “black-iris” right? so what ever you say wether the government like it or not, is your opinion, but from what i’ve seen from your blogging is that you critisize the government on some issue in the right way and offer suggestions, and explaining problems that people are facing.

    either way blogs are personal websites, do they understand the sentence that i just mentioned?
    whatever i say in my blog only reflect my opinion, there are commenters who will disagree or argue, and people who agree.
    if they are worried about blogs then they are so dumb.

    the internet should be less valued for such issues, unless the news if from addustour.com or etc, then whatever seen on other sites is not from an official source of news therefore it is considered bull*** , and government should reject any attacks by people who got it from the cyberspace.

    i hope i you got my point

  5. i want to say one more thing.

    the internet should be seen by the government just like the street or like we define it in arabic (alshare3). its the same way foreign governments see it.

    what is your reaction if you hear someone in the coffie shop swears at some ministers or government in general or whatever etc, and if you read the same by someone on some forum?

    that reaction is exactly what im talking about. what you (hear) on the street should be considered same as what you (read) on some forum. western countries reached that point. because the technology was available to them before us and they see it like that.

    our brains still consider stuff that we read is more beleive able than stuff that we hear.

    also hope you got the point 🙂

  6. Good post Nas.

    http://www.aaramnews.com is an excellent example of using free speech and still remaining mannered and professional.

    A Pan-Arab news portal that is registered in the UK it has a British Identity.

    I hope you can visit Aaram and please provide me with some feedback of what you think.

    On another note I feel Jordanian portals should try to utilise the internet fully and extend outside the borders of Jordan they must remember they are not print and they are being read internationally therefore they should cater the international reader and stop concentrating on petty domestic issues that dont really give Jordanian media a good image outside

    Regards to all

  7. The more they watch ,the more they will lose control, and that’s good!

    The Internet just beyond their control ,it’s the new revolution they will never be able to comprehend and control ,it’s the age of information and not their propaganda tools are just useless and out of date and hopefully AlRai and Al dustorr will become extinct and the thing of the past.

  8. Yazan majali,
    So local online media should post the pictures of women with their breasts showing, alongside with some praise for the king? Lets forget jordan and cater for the west, is that what you are saying?

    ” and stop concentrating on petty domestic issues that dont really give Jordanian media a good image outside”

    Are you ifffn serious?

  9. Mohannad,

    I think you should stick to your local news sites, because international news sites might be a little to overwhelming for you.

    I mean using obsene language to get your point across in your blog highlights my point!

    There is no constructive critisism, no sign if critical thinking, no analysis and finally no logic in what you say. You take a one sided view with no objectivity.

    For Jordanians to move forward we must learn from the outside enhance or knowledge of the world and stop being strapped down and arguing of petty issues. Take a stand at what you see happening in the world. Ammon has proved that this is their policy, however still a very domestic paper, nevertheless manages to some extent highlight international news.

    And like I said Aaram is British and whether we like it or not people like our pictures and yes we must cater for all. If you search the archive and research and read then you will find a foundation and why we write what we do.

    We cant keep concantrating on little stories when we are going through a defining stage of internet news portals and technology in general, we should either utilise it to the full or just concentrate on our daily prints that dont get past the Jordanian borders.

    Thanks

  10. “I think you should stick to your local news sites, because international news sites might be a little to overwhelming for you.”

    And I still think your site should stick with showing breasts, because if that’s the audience you cater to you will find many in the international and arab audience.

    On a side note: Do you think that showing a woman rack is less obscene than saying the word 😀

    I know you are copying elaph’s model and I say stick to it, but Please stop preaching and telling us what we should and shouldn’t do. We need a strong local media that especially focuses on what you described as pitty issues. We need media that dares to question everything and everyone.

    “We cant keep concantrating on little stories when we are going through a defining stage of internet news portals and technology in general, ”

    I think you are a decade behind.

    “There is no constructive critisism, no sign if critical thinking, no analysis and finally no logic in what you say. You take a one sided view with no objectivity.”

    And you ,Mr.Freud, were able to tell of this about me? Wow..On a side note, I am no journalist, nor do I aggregate Pictures of breasts 😉

  11. The Free Jordanian – I love the assumption you made excellent excellent…

    I think you should concentrate on Reconstructing the state of Jordan, Methods and methodology project.

    How is it sleazy? how is it sexist, since there is a category for womens news منها و إليها , and a large number of women writers? how is it trivial the news is provided as it is with analysis on certain topics of interest.

    Please please this is a request if you have anything to write about sexism in the Arab world please send and Aaram will publish, if you have any comments even if negative about Aaram please send as long as their is no personal attack Aaram will publish, this is liberalism and confidence in the ability to take critisism and work on it. I am open to any suggestions that you may have.

    This is the Jordanian mentality I am talking about, jumping to make assumptions, judging and talking without thinking, the general negative talk and finally the superiority complexes that are abundant in Jordanian society. These are big big problems that we have in Jordan and we will never move forward without addressing these issues.

    It’s a shame that the first to give a kick are my Jordanian brothers but at the end of the day its an internation news portal.

    Mohannad – “And I still think your site should stick with showing breasts, because if that’s the audience you cater to you will find many in the international and arab audience.”

    well its a tool, and our target is actually International and Arab readers, so I didn’t understand your point!

    “On a side note: Do you think that showing a woman rack is less obscene than saying the word”

    hhhmmmmm well actually yes I do as I am not offending anyone directly where the use of the word a**hole you are actually offending the reader and more importantly the group of people you are talking about in your article.

    “I know you are copying elaph’s model and I say stick to it, but Please stop preaching and telling us what we should and shouldn’t do. We need a strong local media that especially focuses on what you described as pitty issues. We need media that dares to question everything and everyone.” – do some research and you will know the truth!

    “I think you are a decade behind.” – how? how old is the first arabic online news portal? and when you find out the answer dig a little deeper and you will be amazed.

    to both free Jordanian and Mohannad in my first comment to this post I was expressing my views and commenting fairly without attacking anyone…..you are the one who started the negative talk and attack. I spoke about the full utilisation of the internet and the image of Jordan on the international arena……you see you are the ones who started talknig about petty issues such as womens breasts and picture you dont approve of this is the general trend on jordanian portals……I never once mentioned that local portals should publish pictures of women that a choice thats up to them.

    free jordanian why are you hiding behind a nickname?

    regards to all

  12. yazan, away from what i think about your site’s content and if it is actually worth anything .. the design is extremely poor dude

  13. “hhhmmmmm well actually yes I do as I am not offending anyone directly where the use of the word a**hole you are actually offending the reader and more importantly the group of people you are talking about in your article. ”

    No worries, they got over it..

    ” do some research and you will know the truth!”
    Really, that’s the best argument you could come up with? You are copying elaph’s model, nothing innovative or creative in copying, but also nothing wrong with that.

    And who said I didn’t approve you posting pictures of breasts? I don’t really care..

Your Two Piasters: