Jordan attempts mass internet censorship

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Jordan attempts mass internet censorship

Hits news sites that aren't state-controlled.

Jordan has become the latest country attempting to censor internet-published dissent by blocking access to a large number of websites from within the country.

The Jordanian government's director of press and publication department, Fayez Shawabkeh, initially denied that hundreds of sites would be blocked, according to a report by technology news site Al Bawaba.

However, a later statement from the press and publication department to the state-controlled Jordan news agency Petra confirmed that the site block was in effect, and that the country's harsh media laws, which were recently amended to cover electronic news, were being applied.

Denying the block would restrict civil liberties and media freedom, the government department claimed the reason for it was to "not allow those outside the media profession to claim they are journalists and take the role of journalists".

The sites blocked were mostly news outlets, including Al Jazeera. Norwegian energy company Statoil also had its site blocked by the Jordanian government however, along with adult site Penthouse, Al Bawaba reported.

Some 261 sites are now filtered in Jordan, but it is not known what technology is used. In May this year, the We Fight Censorship activist site revealed that nearby civil-war riven Syria used deep packet inspection technology from Blue Coat, with 34 servers deployed within networks in the country.

Several countries block access for their citizens to digitally communicated news and information, with Paris-based media freedom advocate group Reporters without Borders (RSF) listing thirteen as the "Enemies of the Internet."

The RSF list of Enemies of the Internet includes countries such North Korea, China, Cuba, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia.

Australia is classified by the RSR in the "Countries under Surveillance" list along with Egypt, Eritrea, France, India, Kazakhstan and Malaysia. The organisation has pointed to the voluntary filtering system used by ISPs such as Telstra, Primus and Optus, but also the AFP's use of section 313 orders to block domain names and URLs.

Last week, it was revealed that an unnamed Australian national security agency had been using section 313 orders to block websites.

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