Jordan’s cybercrime bill amendments raise concerns over freedom of expression and press
Jordan amendments to the cybercrime bill aim to censor websites, prohibit VPNs, and slow social media services. Experts argue that the amendments may violate freedom of expression and have a chilling effect on the freedom of press.
The proposed amendments to Jordan’s cybercrime bill have raised concerns among experts on the potential violation of free speech and press. The 41 proposed amendments grant the judges the power to censor websites, prohibit VPNs, and slow social media services. Additionally, online character assassination and using the internet to sabotage national unity are criminalised under the new bill. Namely, critics stated that these amendments could have a chilling effect on the freedom of press as the ‘dissemination of false news, slander, or insults’ is also criminalised.
Human rights expert Nahla Momani called for a limited application of defamation and slander rules outlined in the Penal Code, which currently do not include provisions for arrests related to these offenses, whereas the proposed cybercrimes draft law does. Additionally, Momani suggested giving judges the discretion to decide between fines or prison sentences in some cases while emphasizing the importance of precise legal terms and avoiding broad language in cybercrime law to protect individual rights.
MP Suleiman Abu Yahya argued that the new bill might be damaging due to its broader scope. A petition demanding its removal was signed by political parties and journalists in Jordan, who cited the possible effects on free expression and worldwide freedom indexes.