After months of chatter, a few days ago Jordan's Ministry of ICT & the Telecommunications Regulation Commission issued a notice to ISPs ordering them to enforce blocking of pornography. It seems this has been done in haste, out of fear, and succumbing to pressure without thinking the process through.
In practical terms, the perceived control the MoICT believes it will have through censorship is erroneous, as blocked sites can be accessed through a slew of proxy means. If people intend to access something on the Internet, they will, and easily, no blocking will stop them.
The effective and sustainable kind of control that MoICT ought to be advocating for is self control and protection - individually, in homes, workplaces and public access places. For example, the software they made available on their site for people to use to block by choice is one of the steps the MoICT should support and grow, along with awareness campaigns and various collaborative efforts with ISPs and end users to enlighten and empower individuals to make their own choices. This is very easy to do. Now more than ever Jordan needs multi-stakeholder collaborations to participate in developing and maintaining this pragmatic social consciousness together.
As policy, Jordan needs to make a strategic decision whether we want to grow on the track of progress and work towards the great things we dream and speak of, or do we want to take the country through a downward spiral into a regressive abyss?
Jordan must say an absolute no to censorship, discrimination and surveillance as this is a dangerous call that puts us on the list of countries that are enemies of the Internet. Not only does this threaten individual freedoms at a crucial time in the country's transformation, but it also threatens an industry that has been incredibly progressive in Jordan over the last two decades, a successful forerunner in the region, and has had outstanding economic as well as socio-cultural impact on the country through both local and foreign investment in the sector.
The call for government control is dumbing down an entire population during a period of incredibly beautiful human consciousness that is working for a better world. Does Jordan want to be part of this bright future, or do we want to lose out on yet another round?
The present challenges we are witnessing in Jordan since a couple of years and counting are the result of bad policies made through non transparent procedures, an unaccountable public sector, and the lack of openness on many issues. Do we really want to make these same mistakes again, this time in an industry we've so far managed well?
Curtailing freedom with a moralistic agenda is a convenient way to start cracking down on the Internet in general. Today the government wants control over immoral and ideological content, which gives them the power over a switch that will inevitably be used wrongly to censor a wide range of content at the whim of public servants. This will get out of control very fast, something we will inevitably regret, and reversing the damage will cost Jordan a severe socio-political and socio-economic price. It will fast track us into a dark age. Today, this can be avoided through open, enlightened vision, policies and procedures.
Join the Facebook page that is mobilizing online and offline through a movement and conversations that include over 10k concerned citizens and growing daily calling for keeping Jordan's Internet open and free of government control and censorship of any form. Instead, the community is advocating for self protection by individual choice. Contribute on this page, help provide useful tools and DIY videos, and anything you see fit. بعرف أحمي حالي. مش شغل الحكومة تحجب النت
Read Internet freedom in Jordan: the beginning of the end? by Ahmad Humeid on 360east.