Jordan Withdraws Controversial Cybercrime Law Amendments

14 December 2018 - The International Center for Not for Profit Law (ICNL) is pleased to share news that the Government of Jordan withdrew controversial amendments to its cybercrimes law. The amendments, which were initially produced in 2017 and later revised and submitted to the parliament for consideration in 2018, raised many concerns for Jordanian CSOs and the international community.

The amendments did not conform to international standards and best practices with regard to freedom of expression. Specifically, they introduced a vague and overbroad definition of “hate speech,” which could be imposed on certain expression over the internet regardless of whether it was intended to incite hatred or harm, or pose a threat. The amendments proposed criminal penalties for hate speech, which would have made it possible for authorities to detain anyone suspected of disseminating hate speech for 24 hours to seven days, a period that could be extended up to one month; this measure could be used to target government opponents, activists and human rights defenders. The amendments also would have preserved controversial Article 11 from the cybercrimes law, which penalizes electronic defamation and allows the government to confiscate, suspend, and inspect personal devices and information systems, violating individuals’ right to privacy.

ICNL, through the Internet Freedoms in Jordan project funded by the State of the Netherlands’ Human Rights Fund, provided legal analysis on the draft amendments, talking points, and other technical assistance to an online campaign launched by local CSOs demanding withdrawal of the amendments. In addition to the campaign, ICNL talking points have been presented in a meeting with the Human Rights Working Group of the EU mission in Jordan, government officials, the social and economic council, the media, and other CSOs, activists, and stakeholders.

The government announced a revised draft, which includes a narrower definition of hate speech and reduced penalties for electronic defamation, and does not require criminal detention. ICNL will review the new draft and prepare a read-out, and will continue to provide information to CSOs and other stakeholders.

Learn more recent articles published by the Jordan Times here and here.

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