Websites blocked because of new Press and Publication law

In early June, not long after the Dead Sea edition of the World Economic Forum and the International Press Institute’s annual conference wrapped up, Jordanian authorities finally initiated the ban on unlicensed news sites that activists had feared would come. According to Jordanian media organization 7iber, amendments made to the Press and Publications Law in September 2012 required Jordanian news websites to register with authorities or face censorship. The amendments also included articles that would “hold online news sites accountable for the comments left by their readers, prohibiting them from publishing comments that are deemed “irrelevant” or “unrelated” to the article,” a change that caused several sites to turn off their comments sections. The ban initiated in June encompassed more than 300 sites, including several that fall outside of the parameters of the regulation, including Al Jazeera (based in Qatar) and Penthouse Magazine. On July 1, 7iber found its own website added to the list, and stated on Facebook: If the Press and Publication Department decided that needs to get licensed – which is against all their public statements about blogs – they were supposed to officially inform us of this decision and give us 90 days before blocking the website, according to their law (Article 49, paragraphs A-1, and A-2). 7iber was blocked today by a simple memo from the Press and Publication Department to the Telecom Regulatory Commission, which in turn gave its directives to ISPs. This happened without any due process or formal notification to 7iber, in yet another demonstration that this law serves as a tool for the government to arbitrarily stifle freedom of expression online. The Jordan Open Source Association (JOSA) has spoken out against the ban, stating: JOSA calls on the government to reverse its decision, and to review the modified Press and Publications law, and has implored decision makers to preserve the integrity and the inherent openness of the Internet, keeping it free of all forms of censorship and surveillance. JOSA has also published a helpful infographic detailing the history of Jordanian Internet censorship. [please look at the original issue for all links] Several Jordanian groups are making a concerted effort to fight back against the new regulations. 7iber has issued a guide to circumventing the blocks, while a collective has begun work on the Jordanian Internet Charter, based on the Brazilian Marco Civil.JordanPress and Publication Lawhold online news sites accountable for the commnets left by their readers, prohibiting them from publishing comments that are deemed "irrelevant" or "unrelated"Article 49, paragraphs A-1, and A-2Media/Press/PublicationLegislation7iber, JOSANews Site1.0Jul 17, 2013Aug 31, 2012