Internet Freedom in Jordan: For the First Time Goverment Requests Google to Remove Content
The Jordanian government is adopting stronger positions against Internet Freedom, after speaking in favor of black-censoring websites that might contain "pornographic" materials and considering a draft law to "regularize" news websites, it is now the turn of political content, officially asked to be removed from Google. Issa Mahasneh shares his fears that Internet in Jordan will not be free anymore soon.
In the last six months, Google has received more than one thousand requests from government authorities to remove content which are considered 'harmful'.
The bad story for us is that one of the new-entries is, unfortunately, Jordan, whose authorities have requested the removal of "less than 10" pieces of content, for the first time since Google started publishing these data.
The Mountain View based company started releasing publicly all the countries' requests in its "Transparency Report" since January 2010.
Although in other countries most of the requests are court orders, cases where content have been found to not comply with national laws according to the country's juridical system. In Jordan, all the requests were from the Government, which implicates that content requested to be removed are mostly allegations on political basis.
In fact, most of the requests Google receives for such removals are politically related, as explained by Dorothy Chou, Senior Policy Analyst at Google, "We’ve been asked to take down political speech" she said, adding that free expression is at risk.
Google reported that none of the Jordanian requests were fully or partially complied with. But the fear of having the government asking for more of content removal from Google is understandable.
It is now clear that the Jordanian government has strong intentions to tighten its control on the Internet, making it less free, the role of the civil society now is to not putting the censor's scissors in the hands of the government under any excuse, and if we really care about the Internet (and we do), we should really fight for its first principle, openness.
In this digital era, we should believe that Internet Freedom is one of the main freedoms we should fight for. The question we have to answer is easy; can we really give the government the authority to decide what we can see on the web or we cannot?