Amendments to media and publication laws lead to a swift shuttering of more than 200 websites in Jordan last week. The Press and Publications Department of Jordan claimed responsibility for generating the list of “unlicensed” sites, including Al Jazeera, the site of the Muslim Brotherhood in Jordan, and Time Out magazine. Criticized as opaque and vague, recent amendments require sites viewable (if not necessarily based) in Jordan to register with the Jordanian government, obtain a license, and actively monitor all content produced on the site in order to actively cooperate with Jordanian law.
In what lawmakers defended as an attempt to curb cyberbullying, Internet users in the Mexican state of Nuevo León may now face up to three years incarceration for posting messages or images to social networks that cause “harm, dishonor, discredit to a person, or exposes him or her to contempt.” Defamation is a felon in Nuevo León and the amendment marks an expansion to the stringent laws to apply online. Website operators are also required by law to reveal to authorities the identity of anyone committing an act of defamation. Critics call the legislation opaque and vague, offering undue power to authorities who may wish to quell criticism against public officials.
As protests swell in Turkey, Internet users are using virtual private networks (VPNs) in large numbers to skirt suspected government censorship. Last weekend, more than 120,000 mobile users in Turkey downloaded the free VPM Hotspot Shield, according to the manufacturer. The figure marked a ten thousandfold increase in typical daily downloads for the software on Saturday. Sources inside Turkey reported access to social networking sites in the country were throttled over the last weekend while Turkcell, the largest mobile carrier in the country, denied claims it was blocking the sites. Protests continue in Turkey at time of writing, defying an appeal from the prime minister end the unrest.
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