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Jordanians protest proposed internet controls

Website owners and journalists protest against proposed new law they claim will result in increased state censorship of the internet

MENA, Thursday 30 Aug 2012
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When Jordanians logged onto their favourite websites on Wednesday morning, many of them saw black messages stating: "This website could be blocked under amendments to printing and publishing laws and state censorship of the internet."

The Organisation of Electronic Websites in Jordan led the action against the proposed new law and indicated that some 500 websites had joined the electronic protest.

The draft amendments were presented to parliament for approval last week, and with the changes, websites will be forced to register with the state, thus falling under the same censorship authority as paper publications, risking new limits to freedom of expression.

In parallel, marches and protests were arranged throughout Jordan over the last week by activists. The latest of these was a sit-in at the parliament on Wednesday to demand the law be rejected. Website owners, journalists, political party members, MPs and members of the Syndicate of Journalism have taken part in the protests.

The state has said the law will not limit or restrict freedom, but rather regulate and organise the media and thus serve the overall media industry.

Hamad Al-Hagaya MP urged website owners to reach a consensus about the new law, stressing the importance of reaching an agreement about the changes that are likely to touch blogs and personal websites as well.

A parliamentary committee will hold meetings to discuss the law with the website owners, Al-Hagaya added.

"Freedom isn't divisible," he concluded.

The executive manager of the Centre for Protection and Freedom of Journalists in Jordan, Nidal Mansour, said it was unacceptable that laws limiting freedoms are passed.

 

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