What is The Greatest Threat to The Internet in Your Country 
How Can This be Addressed?

Just like most of the countries in the region and beyond, censorship by the government is considered to be a major threat to the Internet in Jordan. According to the freedom house report [1], (Freedom on the Net), the Internet in Jordan is considered partly free with a total score of 50 out of 100. Similarly, Internet penetration is 44% with the total population of 4.6 million.

The obstacle to access Internet content is 12 out of 25, the limits to reach Internet content is 16 out of 35, the violation of human rights 22 out of 40, without the blocking of social media and ICT applications. However, political and social contents are blocked in addition to that; bloggers and ICT users are convicted by state security apparatus. Many challenges and threats still threaten the freedom of the press which represents a serious obstacle to the development of a neutral Internet in Jordan.

After the Arab spring, governments in the region are increasingly pressuring individuals and filtering content on the Internet that they claim violates laws and regulations which these governments enacted lately to allow for more censorship, expanding surveillance, blocking content such as news websites, blogs and multimedia content on social media.

Based on article 49 of the modified Press and Publication Law, in 2013, the press and publication department blocked around 300 news websites without court order because they were not licensed from the government, especially the ones that publish news, related to the Kingdom’s domestic or foreign affairs were asked to obtain licenses from the government.

Al-Kawn News and Saraya News [4], though are  licensed news websites, they were blocked for publishing content about Jordanian pilot Moath Al-Kasasbeh under the antiterrorism law. Another restriction is that the editor-in-chief must be a member of the Jordan Press Association (JPA) at least registers from three to four years as in the (article 23). This creates serious “legal implication” for those who are not registered to work on online news websites.

The article 15 – iv of Jordan’s Press Law violates international Human Rights standards. It states that [2]“In the event of the declaration of martial law or a state of emergency, a limited censorship on newspapers, publications, books and broadcasts in matters affecting public safety and national defense may be imposed by law.”

The government controls Internet service providers by service agreement; ISP can't take a step toward filtering or blocking websites without the control of the ministry of telecommunication that work under the control of the government.

According Human Rights Watch (HRW) 2015 report [3] "Jordanian law criminalizes speech deemed critical of the king, government officials, and institutions, as well as Islam and speech considered defamatory of others".

The report criticizes Jordan 2006 Anti-Terrorism Law that states and include the description of the term “Terrorism” as “disturbing [Jordan’s] relations with a foreign state,” under the notation of national security term which also appear in case when Jordanians government prosecuted Zaki Bin Irshaid, the Secretary-General of the Muslim Brotherhood when he criticizing the UAE for a post on his Facebook profile. As a consequence, he was convicted of "harming Jordan’s ties with a friendly state”[4].

Another case on social media, Abd al-Hadi al-Majali, a columnist for the government-owned Al-Ra’i newspaper get arrested by police for a post on his Facebook profile criticizing security officials and cursed the country with the charges of “disclosing state secrets”[4].

So thinking of how to addresses government censorship? Is censorship going to replace Internet freedom in Jordan? Is the solution for individuals getting over the censorship by using circumvention tools to get around blocked websites or prevented contents? This is surely not the solution.
Jordan is a developing country where the use of modern technology is far reaching compared to developed countries. Without a proper technical understanding of a creative way of tackling Internet Governance policy issues, the government will always use old means to block and censor The internet.  The country finds it difficult to cope with the fast-paced technological development as well as regulatory measures as well as drafting modern legislation.

The development of technology is very slow compared to the western countries; hence regulator ion and policy development is intertwined with poor infrastructure and ICT development. We need to learn from technologically advanced countries to be able to know how they to effectively deal with the issue of censorship, blocking of content to keep the Internet in Jordan open and neutral like in Iceland, Estonia , and Canada.

Jordan need a high reputation, legal organization and new jurisdiction to discuss some issues related to the openness of the Internet with a concrete solutions that suit the country’s environment, at the same time those policies should not affect our national security by including all stakeholders in the process of Internet policies making to be able to ensure transparent procedures, take suggestions from the stakeholders and need to learn from country which are right on track to becoming censorship free such as Brazil.

At the MENA region level, Jordan times [5] write that" Jordan is ranked 11th in developing media freedom in the country. In 2015, Jordan has dropped two places on the World Press Freedom Index 2015, ranking 143rdamong 180 countries, as the government assumed that it will continue to enlarge media freedom in the Kingdom". At the same time am very optimistic for my country, which has always worked for the betterment of its citizens. Compared to other countries in the region, the case of Jordan is somewhat different, public at large is happy with his majesty’s leadership.

Jordan is very peaceful, comparatively more prosperous, educated and the general public is forward looking. Nonetheless, it will take some time to better realize the significance of the openness of Internet and making it censorship free in the Kingdom.
Enas Kanan ( Jordan ) 
Policy and Research Development 

Published on 28/11/2015

World Report 2015, Human Rights Watch