Jordan- Senate approves controversial press law| MENAFN.COM

Friday, 02 December 2022 11:34 GMT

Jordan- Senate approves controversial press law

(MENAFN- Khaleej Times) The Senate on Saturday endorsed the amended 2012 Press and Publications Law as referred from the Lower House. Having been endorsed by the two Houses of Parliament, the law will now be forwarded to His Majesty King Abdullah and then published in the Official Gazette. The senators also issued a clarification explaining that only local news websites fall under the draft amendments, while social media networks or search engines are not governed by the Press and Publications Law. The lawmakers said the new bill will not deal with websites designated for private or public sector institutions, Internet service providers or foreign news outlets. Stakeholders in the media and ICT sectors, as well as press freedom advocates have criticised the law for being vague about its jurisdiction. "The draft law does not clearly refer to news websites. It refers only to websites, and this may include blogs, websites of companies, websites created by individuals, and simply anything that is online," Abed Shamlawi, CEO of the ICT Association of Jordan has said in previous remarks to The Jordan Times. But Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Samih Maaytah brushed off these concerns, saying that "non-news electronic media such as blogs and social media tools will not be included [under the law]". The exact text of the controversial amendments proposed by the government states: "If an electronic publication's activity includes publishing news, investigative reports, articles and comments related to the internal or external affairs of the Kingdom, this publication must register and acquire a licence under a decision by the director [of the Department of Press and Publications] and the owner of the electronic publication must rectify his status in accordance with this law within no less than 90 days." Also as endorsed by the two Houses of Parliament, the law stipulates that chief editors of news websites must be members of the Jordan Press Association. Over 400 local news websites will be forced to abide by the regulations of this law and any website that does not obtain the proper licence will be blocked for violating the law. During Saturday's Senate session, Senator Abdul Hadi Majali stressed the need to organise news websites, calling on authorities to apply "the spirit of the law". He said "the press law is a controversial legislation", but this does not mean that the country should "turn a blind eye to the violations committed by certain websites". Prime Minister Fayez Tarawneh reiterated at the session that the purpose of the amendments is to better regulate the work of online media outlets. Senator Khaled Karaki supported Majali's point of view in connection to the need to have what he described as "accurate organisation" of news websites, but senators Samar Hajj Hassan and Haifa Najjar both expressed concerns that the freedom of the press might be on the line with the enactment of the law in question.

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