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Jordanians launch social media campaign against new cybercrime law

By Raed Omari - Nov 18,2018 - Last updated at Nov 18,2018

AMMAN — Activists have launched a campaign on social media calling for withdrawing the draft cybercrime law from the Lower House, describing the new bill as a crackdown on freedom of expression.  

Launched Saturday night, "#withdraw_cybercrime_law" was among the most trending hashtags on Twitter and Facebook on Sunday.

In their posts and comments, social networks users’ called on the government of Prime Minister Omar Razzaz to withdraw the 2018 amendments to the cybercrime law, arguing that the new bill  imposes more restrictions on the freedom of expression and contradicts promises of a modern state system.

As per its validating reason, the 2018 cybercrime law, which the government referred to the Lower House in June this year, aims at curbing hate speech and privacy violations among other infringements, especially those committed on social media platforms.

For Sama Ahmad, Jordanians have launched the #withdraw_cybercrime_law campaign “to defend their rights of freedom of speech after observing the severe consequences of the application of the cybercrime law in several cases”.

Christina Themelis said on her Twitter account that “#Jordan is leading a move against #cybercrime law that in effect intends to reduce freedom of opinion in all aspects with severe consequences”.

According to Odai Al Smadi‏, “the law is vaguely defined and will allow them [government] to jail anyone who opposes their agenda.” 

“Freedom of press is the only standard to measure a country’s respect to its citizens’ freedoms and rights,” Eman Mohsen Tweeted under the hashtag ‏”#withdraw_cybercrime_law”.

Journalists publishing under the hashtag posted a tweet by Razzaz in 2013 which reads: “The legislative and executive authority needs to hear the voice of the youth on the freedom of electronic media. Let’s together work towards that end.”

“Yes, let’s work on that. Do your part,” Ahmad Yousef said, addressing the premier. 

Nidal Mansour, executive president of Centre of Defending Freedom of Journalists, said on his Twitter account that social media is not the cause of rumours but the absence of official accounts and credible information. “Addressing rumours can’t be through silencing people and unjust laws.”

With unmistakable sarcasm, Saud Trad Al Qadi advised the government to “let people express themselves on social media; better than in the streets”.

On his Twitter account, Director of Phenix Centre for Economic Studies Ahmad Awad said that the new cybercrime law contradicts the Constitution that guarantees the freedom of expression. 

The bill stipulates an imprisonment penalty of no less than a year and no more than three years and a fine between JD5,000 and JD10,000 for people who publish or share whatever can be described as hate speech through the Internet, websites or information systems.

The bill defines hate speech as each statement or act that can fuel religious, sectarian, ethnic or regional sedition; calling for violence and justifying it; or spreading rumours against people with the aim of causing them, as a result, physical harm or damage to their assets or reputation.

The bill stipulates an imprisonment term of no less than three months and no more than three years and a fine between JD1,000 and JD3,000 for people who use the Internet and online means to blackmail others to do things or abstain from doing things against their will.

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