There have been no reports of extrajudicial intimidation or physical violence in response to online activity, though individuals directly exposing the activities of organized crime in some parts of the country may be at risk of reprisals. Defacement of websites for political reasons does occur, but it is rare. More serious cyberattacks—particularly against banks, government institutions, and business websites—are a problem in Italy, as in other EU member states. Moreover, Italy ranks high on the list of countries identified as points of origin for cybercrimes. The law enforcement agency with primary responsibility for cybercrimes is the Postal and Communications Police Service. Police officers are primarily concerned with cybercrime in the form of child pornography, cyberbullying, and various forms of fraud.54 A special branch within the service, the National Center for Infrastructure Protection, is tasked with the protection of the country’s critical infrastructure. Figures on cybercrime are difficult to assess, as the main providers of data are computer security companies such as Symantec or government entities like the postal police, as opposed to “third-party” sources. Nevertheless, Italy’s rates appear to be slightly above the world average. See Tiziana Moriconi, “Crimini online, i dati italiani” [Online Crime, the Italian Data], Daily Wired, November 23, 2010, http://daily.wired.it/news/internet/hacking-accordo-tra-symantec-e-polizia-postale.html (in Italian);
Alessandra Talarico, “Cybercrime. Italia vittima e carnefice: il paese che pi abbocca al phishing e tra i pi attivi negli attacchi web based” [Cybercrime. Italy Victim and Victimizer: It Is the Country That Takes the Bait in Phishing and Is Among the Most Active in Web-Based Attacks], Key4Biz, April 22, 2010, http://www.key4biz.it/News/2010/04/22/eSecurity/cybercrime_botnet_spam_ebanking_social_network_spyware_adware_phishing.html (in Italian). For a recognition of the professionalism of Italy’s postal police, see Alessandra Talarico, “Lotta al cybercrime: avr sede a Roma nuova task force UsaEuropa. Utilizzer le tecnologie di Poste Italiane” [Fighting Cybercrime: A New U.S.-European Task Force Will Be Based in Rome. Will Use the Technologies of the Italian Post], Key4Biz, June 30, 2009, http://www.key4biz.it/News/2009/06/30/eSecurity/cybercrime_sicurezza_reti_European_Electronic_Crime_Task_Force_ US_Secret_Service_Massimo_Sarmi.html (in Italian).
Critical infrastructure includes telecommunications networks, energy and water distribution systems, banking networks, and transportation and emergency services.
ITALY FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net JORDAN 2009 POPULATION: 6.5 million INTERNET FREEDOM n/a Partly INTERNET PENETRATION: 28 percent STATUS Free WEB 2.0 APPLICATIONS BLOCKED: No Obstacles to Access n/a SUBSTANTIAL POLITICAL CENSORSHIP: No Limits on Content n/a BLOGGERS/ONLINE USERS ARRESTED: Yes Violations of User Rights n/a PRESS FREEDOM STATUS: Not Free Total n/a INTRODUCTION Jordan, a small kingdom of about six million people, prides itself on offering relatively broad freedom to use the internet and officially blocks only one website. Nonetheless, internet users are aware that their browsing history, comments, and posted materials may be monitored by the authorities. The government’s appreciation of this unique access to public opinions and reactions seemed to have outweighed, until recently, its impulses to control content and limit expression online. However, the new law on cybercrimes, adopted in August 2010, contains several provisions that could be used to limit free expression on the internet, provoking vehement protests by web publishers and internet activists. The government had threatened earlier to introduce legislation covering internet use, but journalists and news website owners had pushed back, arguing that online material is already tempered by the self-censorship to which Jordanians have grown accustomed. Nonetheless, the government imposed the restrictive law, prompting speculations within the web community about the effects of its implementation.
Internet access was first provided to Jordanians in 1995, and the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) was created that year to oversee the medium.1 The authorities quickly recognized the economic potential of the internet and actively promoted the development of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in the kingdom.2 Groups and individuals can obtain internet access through privately owned The TRC was established as a financially and administratively independent jurisdictional body through the Telecommunications Law (No. 13 of 1995) and a subsequent amendment (Law No. 8 of 2002).
Privacy International, “Jordan,” in Silenced: An International Report on Censorship and Control of the Internet (London: Privacy International, 2003), http://www.privacyinternational.org/article.shtmlcmd=x-347-103564.
JORDAN FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net service providers, and no special state approval or registration is required, but traffic must still flow through the government telecommunications hub.3 As the number of internet users began doubling and tripling each year, the government responded by stepping up both infrastructure expansion and monitoring. Although the authorities are aware of the need to develop the ICT sector for the country’s survival and progress, they are nonetheless concerned about the information and the freedom that the internet can bring to the people.
OBSTACLES TO ACCESS According to the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), there were 1,741,internet users in Jordan in 2009, representing about 27.6 percent of the population.4 Most internet users are still young people ranging in age from 15 to 24,5 but the medium, once seen as a tool for trivial entertainment and the exchange of scandalous or banned information, has grown into a vital instrument for business and an important forum for public discussion. About two-fifths of Jordanian families were reported to have personal computers as of early 2009, and the number of broadband subscribers reached 203,500 that year, up from just 24,000 at the end of 2005. Mobile-telephone use has also expanded rapidly; there were about 3.1 million subscribers in 2005, but by early 2010 the number of subscriptions had exceeded the total population.There are frequent government initiatives to encourage schools and universities to offer internet access. A program aimed at providing every student with a laptop computer is ongoing, and over 11,000 laptops have been sold to university students at discounted prices.7 Other initiatives have focused on establishing and modernizing the infrastructure required to support ICT-assisted instruction. By 2009, 72 percent of learners were entitled to use internet laboratories at school as a pedagogical aid, and 80 percent of schools had internet-assisted instruction.Expansion of internet access has been hampered by the cost of computers and connectivity. For the past several years, internet connection fees were considered high in comparison with neighboring countries and with the cost of living. Prices have decreased reportedly upon direct orders from the king, but complaints about the level of service have Ibid.
International Telecommunications Union (ITU), “ICT Statistics 2009—Internet,” http://www.itu.int/ITUD/icteye/Indicators/Indicators.aspx#.
Mohammad Ghazal, “Jordan, UAE Firms in Talks over Free IT Zone,” Jordan Times, May 16, 2009, http://www.jordantimes.com/news=16742.
International Telecommunications Union (ITU), “ICT Statistics 2009—Mobile Cellular Subscriptions,” http://www.itu.int/ITU-D/icteye/Indicators/Indicators.aspx#; “Number of cellular subscribers in Jordan exceeds the number of inhabitants,” Jordan Zad, November 21, 2009, http://www.jordanzad.com/jordan/print.phpa=27318.
Ghazal, “Jordan, UAE Firms in Talks over Free IT Zone.” ITU, “World Telecommunication Development Report” (Target 7), http://www.itu.int/ITUD/ict/publications/wtdr_10/material/WTDR2010_Target7_e.pdf.
JORDAN FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net persisted. Monthly internet subscription prices currently range from 14 Jordanian Dinars (JD) (US$20) for the speed of 128 kilobytes per second (kbps) to about 30 JD (US$42) for the speed of up to 2 megabytes per second (mbps) for uploads and 10 mbps for downloads.
These charges are often twice as much for subscriptions in an office setting. Clients often claim that connection speeds fluctuate and do not correspond to what they pay for.
Moreover, internet access in remote areas remains poor; almost all companies concentrate their operations and promotions in the capital, Amman.
The government does not generally block access to digital media. In fact, web 2.applications and sites—including global platforms like the social-networking site Facebook, the microblogging service Twitter, and the video-sharing site YouTube—are very popular, particularly among younger Jordanians. The number of Jordanian subscribers to Facebook has surpassed 1.2 million in December 2010, with women accounting for an estimated percent of the total.The telecommunications and internet sector is bound by Law No. 13 of 1995 and its amendment, Law No. 8 of 2002. The law endorses open-market policies and principles, governs licensing and quality assurance, and prescribes fines and one month to one year in prison for the distribution of improperly obtained content from any internet or telephone communication.There are currently 11 major internet-service providers (ISPs) in Jordan, though licenses have been granted to over 20 companies. The market is dominated by Omniyah, Zain, and the Jordan Telecom Group, the local affiliate of France Telecom Group’s Orange brand. The formerly state-owned Jordan Telecom controls the fixed-line network and provides access to all other ISPs, thereby centralizing the connection to the international internet. Orange Internet, with over 60 percent of all fixed-line broadband subscriptions, is the largest ISP. In March 2010, Orange announced the launch of the country’s first thirdgeneration (3G) mobile network, which is expected to contribute to growing internet penetration in the kingdom.
LIMITS ON CONTENT Jordanian authorities in recent years have appeared uncertain about internet freedom and how best to regulate it. Recurrent threats to filter websites and censor online content have surfaced when political discussions on news websites grow heated, and rarely does a year go by without new legislation or court rulings aimed at the media sector. Even a fellow news “Jordan—Data for 12/16/2010,” Checkfacebook.com, Accessed on February 15, Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, “Jordan,” in One Social Network With A Rebellious Message (Cairo: Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, 2009), http://www.openarab.net/en/node/1618.
JORDAN FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net outlet, the daily newspaper Al-Ghad, criticized news websites in 2009 and called on the government to impose more restrictions on online content.
Government officials met with journalists at a 2009 conference of the Jordan Press Association, during a period of legal attacks on news websites. Reaching a reconciliation with the journalists, they pledged to drop pending lawsuits and refrain from issuing legislation to censor online content. However, in January 2010, the Court of Cassation ruled that websites and electronic media must comply with the Press and Publications Law.
The ruling raised concerns among media freedom advocates that the content restrictions already imposed on newspapers would be formally extended to online outlets.Even without specific legislation, website owners often remove material after receiving informal complaints via telephone from government officials, members of the security services, party leaders, lawmakers, journalists, and ordinary users. In 2009–10, news websites have had to deal with waves of angry comments from the public whenever sensitive issues are tackled. It is often readers, in addition to state officials, who pressure websites to toe the line and respect traditions.
Outright blocking of websites by the authorities is rare. The only permanently blocked website is the US-based Arab Times newspaper, which often takes a critical tone toward Arab regimes and prominent figures in Arab countries.12 In 2008, the Amman municipality decided to block 600 websites on its internal network, including all Jordanian news websites and newspapers.13 According to the authorities, this step was taken to prevent municipality employees from wasting time while surfing the net, although several outlets questioned this explanation and suggested that the decision was made due to their critical coverage of the municipal government. Similarly, in August 2010, the state government blocked access to 40 websites from its internal network after a study suggested that public service employees were spending hours surfing websites not related to their work.Blogs in Jordan, which initially contributed to residents’ discovery of the internet as a free source of information, seem to have lost some of their influence. They blossomed at the end of 2005, when bloggers successfully and professionally covered the terrorist attacks on three hotels in Amman. These outlets were quick to respond to the events comprehensively, offering photography and video that traditional media did not provide.15 Although Jordan’s blogosphere flourished for a time after the attacks, it remained marginalized. Online readers Hani Hazaimeh, “Court Ruling Threatens Press Freedom—Activists,” Jordan Times, January 15, 2010, http://www.jordantimes.com/news=23196.
See “Jordan” OpenNet Initiative, August 6, 2009, http://opennet.net/research/profiles/jordan.
Arab Archives Institute, “Fear of Freedoms: King Insists on Freedoms, Government Resists,” news release, December 6, 2008, http://www.ifex.org/jordan/2008/12/09/capsule_report_despite_advances/.
“Public Employees Wasting Time on the Internet,” Jordan Times, August 5, 2010, http://www.jordantimes.com/index.phpnews=28938.
Arabic Network for Human Rights Information, “Jordan.” JORDAN FREEDOM HOUSE Freedom on the Net tilted more toward political news websites, where they felt they were interacting with a larger audience and receiving more feedback on their comments.