Jordanian Websites Plan Blackout in Protest of Laws
On August 29, numerous Jordanian websites and blogs will go offline to “protest the proposed amendments to the press and publication law, approved by cabinet and presented to parliament for discussion in its extraordinary session this week.” The group labeled itself “7oryanet” and those participating will replace their home pages with black screens. According to 7iber.com, the amendments include “holding websites accountable for comments posted by readers and forcing them to monitor comments and not publish them if they’re not directly related to the topic of the post or if they’re not verified;” requiring “websites to keep a record of comments for at least six months; and “forcing websites to register and get licensed by the Press and Publication Department in order to be treated like any media publication in Jordan.” The site also reports that the law would grant the director of the Press and Publications the capacity to “block any website hosted outside Jordan if it violates laws that govern local websites.” Last week, several hundred activists protested the proposed laws after Friday prayers in a number of Jordanian cities, though the government has defended the measures. Additionally, Naseem Tarawnah of The Black Iris writes that pending press restrictions could “usher in a new era for arbitrary censorship” and could prove damaging to the Jordanian economy.
Meanwhile, Bahrain’s king visited Jordan yesterday to discuss ties between the two countries, as well as the ongoing situation in Syria. The Jordan Times also reported on defected Syrian officers residing in Jordan, who “[find] themselves increasingly isolated in exile, pushed by their defection from the frontlines to the sidelines, forced to watch as others carry out the battle for the future of their homeland.”