Internet freedom activists slam ministry’s call to block porn sites | Panorama | Ammon News

Internet freedom activists slam ministry’s call to block porn sites

[8/1/2012 12:00:00 AM]

AMMONNEWS-Internet freedom activists are up in arms after the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology (MoICT) called on Internet Service Providers (ISP) last week to block pornographic sites for their users.

The activists say censoring these sites would set a bad precedent and violate individual freedoms, citing a UN Human Rights Council resolution issued last month which affirmed that freedom of expression on the Internet is a universal right and urged governments to promote access to the Internet.

“It’s a dangerous call that puts Jordan on the list of countries that are enemies of the Internet,” said Nadine Toukan, an independent film producer and one of the organisers of a campaign to defend Internet freedom in Jordan.

“This not only threatens 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… and has had an outstanding economic as well as socio-cultural impact on the country through both local and foreign investment in the sector.”

Toukan also stressed that efforts to censor the Internet would be futile.

“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,” she told The Jordan Times in an e-mail on Tuesday.

“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.”

Several Jordanians not involved in the campaign shared Toukan’s concerns and advocated parents taking responsibility for keeping pornography out of their children’s eyes, rather than the state.

“This is just the beginning. I am afraid that the ministry will not only urge ISPs to block these sites, but will force them to do so and that will be the prelude for more censorship on other sites,” Mais Abu Ali, an accountant, told The Jordan Times on Tuesday.

“Parents and families can protect their children by asking the ISPs they use to block these sites. It should be optional, because if the government interferes with this issue, it will interfere and block more sites in the future,” she added.

On Sunday, the ministry urged ISPs to block pornographic sites after repeated demands by a group of anti-pornography activists who started a campaign on Facebook in February, which now has over 34,000 fans.

An opposing Facebook campaign, to prevent government censorship of the Internet, was launched in April and now has more than 10,500 fans.

“Some people are not far-sighted and do not think about the consequences… Filtering the Internet in Jordan will classify Jordan along with Saudi Arabia, Syria and Iran in terms of freedoms,” Maen Al Zubaydi said in a comment posted on the Internet freedom campaign’s Facebook page on Tuesday.

“It will start by blocking porn sites, then news sites and maybe later some free communications sites such as Skype.”

Others disagreed.

“The problem is that there are people who are after their lusts and do not care about others... Yes for blocking these sites... and yes for a safe Internet,” Mohammad Roud said in a comment on the campaign’s page.

Jordan Times/Mohammad Ghazal

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