I cannot say I am surprised at the news of the royal seal approving amendments to the press and publications law. There was, deep down, a part of me who thought this wouldn’t happen and felt that this was perhaps another state policy that would get knocked down by the King after public pressure. But it seems that times have indeed changed and even the voice of reason has departed the political theater.
So, what’s next? The obvious question begs itself. Will this grease the wheels for an expected telecommunications law blocking certain “immoral” sites? Yes, this now seems more likely than ever given the approval of the press law – but I’ll continue to hope I’m wrong. Will this usher in a situation of widespread blanket censorship of the Internet? I personally do not think so, as most media laws in this country are designed to do two things: first, create an environment of fear that encourages self-censorship, and second, make use of the law when deemed necessary. In a country where self-censorship amongst journalists is typically over 90%, such a law will not only solidify this environment of fear, but allow it to now expand online. And as for the application of the law, it is the primary weapon used to keep people in check – anyone who is jailed, fined, or arrested will have essentially broken a law, the morality of which few will question, to say nothing of its constitutionality.
So, what’s the solution? The legal avenues seem to have closed, and what political will was available has now gone. What does remain is merely the ability for Jordanians who are online to continue to write, produce, publish, comment, discuss, analyze, report, and debate – vigorously.
Is this me asking Jordanians to break the law? Aside from the fact that that would be illegal, I would rather put it this way:
Once upon a time the public gatherings law was the biggest impediment to anyone looking to organize or partake in a demonstration, rally, protest or sit-in. For the longest time it was the legal weapon used by the state to control the political mobilization and gathering of citizens. And then the Arab Spring came around and a wave of unyielding protests hit Jordan in January 2011, causing the eventual resignation of a prime minister and fresh promises for reform. This happened because people no longer adhered to a particular law. It happened because, in my opinion, it was an immoral law whose value was eroded the moment people chose to ignore it.
So, no, I’m not asking anyone to break the law.
Sad day for Jordan. I was feeling down but your words always seem to make things better! Keeping hopes up and praying for a Jordan with a lot less immoral laws.
How would the law translate in real life? It wouldn’t affect this blog at all, or facebook, or twitter.
the editor in chief of 7iber needs to be registered and licensed, the law wouldn’t affect the content of 7iber, comments are already moderated even before the law.
the law directly affects all the unprofessional news sites, ammon, khaberni, saraya, jerasa, nibras, ejjbed, balqanet, allofjo, baladnanews,rumonline, jordanzad..and tens others.
Unfortunately they have lumped the good with the bad, the good sites run by real professional journalists have nothing to worry about.
As far as proxy’s and blocking sites, ISPs will most likely refuse to comply unless there is a court order, the due process gives sites enough time to be registered.
Anyone with a blog, personal website, company’s private content the law doesn’t apply to them.
this law is about regulation and not opression
Like you said the law doesn’t block porn, blocking a website that is sourced outside of Jordan is impossible since you can always use a proxy, the telecommunication industry will not cooperate as more than a third of the internet traffic and use in Jordan is directed to pornographic sites, and because the cost of filtering is too high, why would they incur costs that will just reduce their revenue? not feasible and will never work
The law blocks (news and journalistic sites) that are not run by professional journalists, who fail to obtain a license, and after a legal process that would take up to 6 months, by a court order. If you are pretending to be a newspaper/news channel for equality’s sake you should have to obtain a business license and professional registration.
Honestly the only bad thing about the law is that it holds an editor in chief liable for the comments of participants, it requires moderation, and is very intimidating, but maybe it will contribute to more civil dialogue and people will have to discuss opinions backed by facts on NEWS SITES.you have to understand that this didn’t come because all the comments cursing the king, or officials but some of the news sites have blackmailed people and threatened them to publish fake stories about them. a rumor or made up story gets featured on 10 sites instantly, they steal from each other and do not comply by any professional ethics or even plain old conscious.
(details mentioned are backed by facts that i don’t care to share but you can do ur own research)
So sad that in Jordan we ignore vital issues that will elevate and help the citizen live a better life and concentrate instead on controlling the public and their freedoms!!!Why is that?
Editor Note: two comments were deleted at the author’s request.
Guess it’s time to pack up my bags and leave. We truly have nothing left now it’s just a matter of time. It’s crazy how i thought if i go back to to my home country everything would be better but oh my, I was wrong about that. This is as far as i go with the new law and my families safety.
Good Luck Everybody.
I wish you all the best of luck.
I will be leaving now just like your freedom did.
it remains to be seen how things will work out, but i have to point out that not all people take these news sites very seriously. especially the less popular ones.
@Maha, i agree some news sites have turned to extortion after observing news sites, allegations thrown back at each other and one side denies etc
Does that mean I have to register my own blog?
how about doing some cleaning up for all the corruptness thats going on! nothing is being done about it! my father (from he USA) was brought into a cold cruel game into Jeraish by Awni AL Bashir back into 2007 he robbed him blindly $1million and till nownothing is being done. i heard his brother who was not too long ago put in jail for theft ad corruption is going to be able to run in the elections. i think Jordan needs to handle th corruption of these people before they put internet censorship!
It makes no sense to me that the Jordanian government puts this much time and effort to block porn sites when the country is rattled – as you say – by the Arab Spring. Of course the Press and Publication Law aims at something bigger than blocking porn cites. It only starts there. Iraq had a law stating that any journalist who pauses a threat to national security – very elastic terms – can be arrested and jailed for indefinite years without having the right to an attorney. Why, because national security was a red line, more like a red rubber band stretching for miles. Please don’t become what we were, probably still are.