Jordan’s parliament recently passed a new cybercrime law that will severely restrict individual human rights across the country. With the law now heading to Jordan’s Senate and Jordan’s King Abdullah II for final approval, EFF and 18 other civil society organizations have written to the King of Jordan urging the rejection of the country’s draft 2023 Cybercrime Law.
The law has been issued hastily and without sufficient examination of its legal aspects, social implications, and its impact on human rights. More specifically, it imposes penalties of imprisonment and hefty fines for vague and unspecified crimes such as ‘character assassination,’ ‘spreading false news,’ and ‘blasphemy.’
The draft cybercrime law also grants unrestricted authority to the public prosecutor and the executive authority to block social media platforms and issue orders to control their content without the need for a judicial decision—limiting access to specific platforms in Jordan. Additionally, the law imposes restrictions on encryption and anonymity in digital communications, preventing individuals from safeguarding their right to freedom of opinion and expression and their right to privacy.
We urge the King of Jordan to reject the 2023 Cybercrime Law until there is sufficient consultation on its provisions with individuals, civil society, and political parties to ensure its compliance with human rights and address the existing shortcomings.
The letter continues:
The law in its current form—with its loosely-defined and open to interpretation terminology—will inevitably become a tool for prosecuting innocent individuals for their online speech.
We believe that many provisions of the law allow for unjust or unnecessary pre-trial detention, and provide no guarantees for the rights of the affected individuals. This constitutes a violation of Article 9 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, which states that “Anyone who has been the victim of unlawful arrest or detention shall have an enforceable right to compensation.”