Jordanian Websites Go Dark to Protest Internet Censorship

More than 200 Jordanian websites went dark recently in a demonstration reminiscent of America’s anti-SOPA protest.

Jordan’s Internet Black-Out Day was coordinated and carried out within four days after details were released last week of a proposed amendment to the existing Press and Publication Law, which would grant the government sweeping powers to censor and block online content.

According to the Jordanian news site 7iber:

Jordan’s current press and publication law, which requires publications to get licensing from the Press and Publications Department and which imposes specific requirements and fees in order to grant these licenses, is already undemocratic and a hindrance to free press. The proposed amendments go further to stifle and restrict press freedom and freedom of expression. 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. They also require websites to keep a record of comments for at least six months. Amendments include as well forcing websites to register and get licensed by the Press and Publication Department in order to be treated like any media publication in Jordan. This would apply to any website that publishes news, articles, or comments related to Jordanian affairs. The law would also give the director of the Press and Publications department the authority to block any website hosted outside Jordan if it violates laws that govern local websites.

The proposed legislation grew out of a campaign by a conservative grassroots group called Ensaf calling for the government to filter pornography sites.  Local Internet freedom advocates responded with a Facebook page called “I know how to protect myself.”

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