Lower House approves draft cybercrime law despite freedom concerns

Draft law sparks debates over public and journalistic freedoms

WhatsApp Image 2023-07-27 at 1.31.21 PM
(Photo: Ameer Khalifeh/Jordan News)
AMMAN — The Lower House successfully passed the draft cybercrime law following an extensive six-hour debate on Thursday. اضافة اعلان

The Lower House conducted two sessions, one in the morning and another in the evening, both presided over by Lower House Speaker Ahmad Safadi.

Prime Minister, Bisher Al-Khasawneh, and several members of the government team were also present during these sessions.

The next step involves the Senate's review of the law's articles, with a session scheduled for the following Tuesday.

Drawing in criticism
While the new law received criticism from some members of parliament who believed it could impinge on public and journalistic freedoms, a majority of the larger parliamentary team deemed it "good" due to the reduction of penalties by the Legal Committee in the Lower House.

The proponents of the law argue that it is crucial to curb any potential "abuse" against individuals in the digital domain.

Heated discussions during the session revolved around the possibility of increasing penalties prescribed in the draft law. However, most deputies expressed their support for the recommendations put forward by the committee.

Particular attention was given to articles 15 and 17, which caused controversy among the lawmakers. These articles focused on regulating "false news" and their corresponding penalties, which the parliament sought to limit to only those instances that could adversely impact social peace and national security.

Addressing the concerns surrounding the draft law, Khasawneh stated that the government did not view it as a threat to fundamental freedoms or a violation of the constitution. He assured that the government remains "completely open to any form of criticism."

Khasawneh emphasized the novelty of the law in regulating and defining punishments for actions in the electronic space. He clarified that the law does not infringe upon or diminish the fundamental freedoms protected by the Jordanian constitution. Instead, its primary aim is to address issues related to penalizing actions in the digital realm, which already fall under the purview of existing legislation like the Penal Code, which has been in effect since the 1960s.

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