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  17 August 2010
 
International Concern Over New Laws Regulating Online Content in Jordan

(Source: RSF/ANHRI/IFEX).

The international freedom of expression community has raised concerns at the implications of a provisional law on cyber crimes approved by the Jordanian government as the law risks being used to regulate the Internet and to punish those whose posts upset the authorities by establishing a legal framework for news and information websites.

The penalties for violation of these new laws, which range from fines to forced labour, depend on the content posted. The authorities have invoked the need to defend the public interest and regulate the online "chaos", but website owners and online journalists regard the law as a threat to the freedom of the media and communications.

Article 3 of the law stipulates that the authorities must be notified of what is posted online line but it does not say how or where they should be notified. Failure to comply with this article is punishable by a fine.

The law also establishes a range of sanctions for online content that is deemed to defame or violate public decency or national security. The penalties for violating public decency are likely to restrict freedom of information by being applied to innocuous content.

The law follows on from the government blocking of independent news websites at the beginning of August under the pretext that too many public workers were "wasting time and resources" accessing content.

Link: Cyber Crimes (RSF). Link: Websites Blocked (ANHRI).