AMMAN — A Royal Decree was issued on Monday endorsing the amended Press and Publications Law as approved by both Houses of Parliament, the Jordan News Agency, Petra, reported.
The law will go effective once published in the Official Gazette.
The Senate endorsed the amended law earlier this week as referred from the Lower House, which passed it last week.
The senators also issued a clarification explaining that only local news websites fall under the draft amendments, while social media networks or search engines are not governed by the Press and Publications Law.
The lawmakers said the new bill will not deal with websites designated for private or public sector institutions, Internet service providers or foreign news outlets.
Stakeholders in the media and ICT sectors, as well as press freedom advocates have criticised the law for being vague about its jurisdiction, arguing that it does not clearly refer to news websites.
But Minister of State for Media Affairs and Communications Samih Maaytah brushed off these concerns, saying that “non-news electronic media such as blogs and social media tools will not be included [under the law]”.
The exact text of the controversial amendments states: “If an electronic publication’s activity includes publishing news, investigative reports, articles and comments related to the internal or external affairs of the Kingdom, this publication must register and acquire a licence under a decision by the director [of the Department of Press and Publications] and the owner of the electronic publication must rectify his status in accordance with this law within no less than 90 days.”
The law also stipulates that chief editors of news websites must be members of the Jordan Press Association.
Over 400 local news websites will be forced to abide by the regulations of this law and any website that does not obtain the proper licence will be blocked.