Reporters without Borders criticised in a statement on Wednesday the Jordanian authorities’ decision to block nine more local news websites for not obtaining the necessary licenses.
The Paris-based organisation said that, “A year after blocking access to 263 websites, Jordan’s Media Commission has blocked another nine news and information websites on the grounds that they failed to obtain the required licence.”
The statement quoted the organisation’s assistant research director, Virginie Dangles, as saying that: “The Jordanian government aims to use this licencing system to ensure that it controls the Internet and the information published on it,” adding that, “It must urgently repeal the Press and Publication Law provisions that are incompatible with Jordan’s international obligations.”
The editor in chief of 7iber news website, Lina Ejeilat, told Reporters Without Borders that: “We refuse to apply for a license because we believe this is a form of censorship and that websites should not have to obtain permission from the government to operate. The editor in chief has to have been a member of the Jordan Press Association for at least four years, a condition that is obviously very hard to meet.” Ejeilat added. “This licence is a way for the government to control the news reported by websites.”
Jordan’s Press and Publications Department announced in June 2013 that 263 websites were blocked for not obtaining the necessary licenses.
The law that was ratified in September 2012 requires news websites to register with the Press and Publications Department to obtain a license, subjecting them to the same requirements as newspapers and printed publications.
This law also requires that news websites must employ a chief editor who has been a member of Jordan’s Press Association for at least four years.
Al-Quds newspaper reported that human rights organisations and media activists believe the decision violates the freedom of expression in a country that has around 400 news websites and nearly 3.5 million internet users, half the Kingdom’s population.