Being in the US sometimes means missing out on things happening back home in Jordan. Thankfully though there’s always a way of catching up with virtual events (albeit a few hours late because of the time difference.) A few days ago, on August 29, 2012, Jordan made history when hundreds of popular Jordanian websites and blogs went black for a day, most posting this image:
The image spread like wildfire as a protest to a bill passed amending the Kingdom’s current press and publication law. As a blogger and writer who loves to comment on a bunch of subjects (some random, some serious), I was taken aback by some of the restrictions being proposed. Initially, the bill was aimed at targeting pornographic websites. Understandable. The proposed amendments, however, have consequences that go way beyond that.
For example, one of the amendments states that websites would be responsible for the content of comments posted by readers, also requiring them to save those comments for several months. Website operators could also be subjected to a fee if comments discuss topics like the Royal Family under a negative light. Another is the requirement that any website wishing to comment on Jordanian affairs of any sort register with the Press and Publication Department, where one person, the Director of the Department, would have the power to “objectively” block websites. This puts thousands of websites at risk of being blocked in Jordan, truly blacking it out.
I started blogging because I wanted to share my ideas freely, because I wanted to spark debates, because I wanted to share my opinion and hear the opinions of others. I thoroughly enjoying being able to do so. Jordan has constantly been considered a place that advocates such practices.
This censorship bill will do nothing but put freedom of speech at risk of disappearance, and in the current atmosphere within the Middle East I doubt many will be willing to remain silent on the issue.
I stand with 7oryanet in opposing these amendments in favor of our freedom of speech.