Computer Crime Research Center


A leap toward totalitarianism: Jordan's new cybercrime law takes aim at free speech

Date: August 12, 2023
Source: Computer Crime Research Center

... cases of domestic or cross-border criminal offenses, particularly those related to terrorism.

However, what is included in the new Jordanian law goes far beyond all of that, eliciting strong reactions from international organizations concerned with human rights, Internet freedom, and freedom of expression.

Within Jordan, the majority of political parties have vehemently criticized the law and demanded its rejection. Domestic political activists and human rights organizations have launched a fierce denunciation of the legislation, asserting that it constitutes a calculated effort to stifle opposing voices.

Critics contend that the law has been designed with the specific intention of shielding the king's extensive powers, safeguarding government employees, and providing a cloak of protection for those suspected of corruption.

Moreover, it aims to hinder the documentation of abuses carried out by public security and intelligence personnel, while also striving to suppress the dissemination of videos chronicling such abuses.

Deterring dissent, restricting rights

Although there are no official records of cases related to freedom of expression in Jordan, it is widely believed that there are several thousand such files, if not more. The number of detainees currently stands at dozens, with some individuals having been held for extended periods on charges linked to their opinions and expression.

Authorities adopt a strategy of keeping a relatively small number of activists in detention, while maintaining the rest of the cases in a state of suspension. This approach effectively deters thousands of activists under the constant threat of legal action.

The new law introduces a fresh burden for those daring to criticize the regime and its practices??”oppressive financial penalties tied to vaguely defined offenses such as "character assassination" and "false news," among other broad terms.

This framework provides ample latitude for punishing those who express views that run afoul of the government's interests. This, according to international condemnations, is a clear violation of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which Jordan has ratified.

The law paves a path toward a potentially bleak era, coercing citizens into underground activities and pseudonymous publications. Furthermore, it exacerbates the already heightened tension in a country grappling with dire economic, political, and living conditions??”conditions that do not warrant further restrictions.

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