Partly Free
A Obstacles to Access 14 25
B Limits on Content 17 35
C Violations of User Rights 16 40
Last Year's Score & Status
47 100 Partly Free
Scores are based on a scale of 0 (least free) to 100 (most free). See the research methodology and report acknowledgements.

header1 Overview

Internet freedom in Jordan remains restricted. The government continued to block access to communications platforms during high school exams and Clubhouse separately remained inaccessible during the coverage period. Online journalists, activists, and social media users were prosecuted for their criticism of the government, based on several laws that penalize legitimate expression online. Journalists were pressured to remove online content and local media were pushed to limit their coverage of critical topics online, especially content associated with the king or the royal family. Access to the internet has improved significantly in recent years, although concerns about state surveillance of online activity persist. Human rights defenders (HRDs) were targeted with spyware technology during the coverage period.

Jordan is a monarchy in which the king plays a dominant role in politics and governance. The parliament’s lower house is elected, but the electoral system puts the opposition at a disadvantage and the chamber wields little power in practice. The media and civil society groups are hampered by restrictive laws and government pressure. The judicial system lacks independence and often fails to ensure due process.

header2 Key Developments, June 1, 2021 - May 31, 2022

  • Facebook Live was disrupted during the coverage period, while Jordan’s telecommunications regulator ordered internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to communications platforms during national exams (see A3 and B1).
  • In October 2021, online coverage of the Pandora Papers, an investigation that revealed the improper financial dealings and connections of rich and powerful actors around the world, was censored. At least one website that shared information about King Abdullah II’s offshore activity was blocked for hours. The only local media outlet reporting the story was pressured to remove an article from their website by intelligence services (see B2).
  • Internet users were arrested for their online activity during the coverage period. A member of an opposition party was arrested and charged in May 2022 for a Facebook post criticizing Arab states’ relations with Israel (see C3).
  • During the coverage period, reports emerged that activists, HRDs, and opposition party members were targeted by Pegasus spyware (see C5).
  • In December 2021, the government approved the language of a draft data protection bill, which came under the consideration of a parliamentary committee in January 2022. If passed, the law could have negative implications for online privacy in Jordan (see C6).

A Obstacles to Access

A1 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Do infrastructural limitations restrict access to the internet or the speed and quality of internet connections? 5.005 6.006

Jordan’s internet infrastructure improved significantly after telecommunications providers launched fourth-generation long term evolution (4G LTE) technology for mobile networks in 2015.

Internet penetration stood at 66.8 percent as of January 2022. There were 8 million mobile connections as of that month, while the mobile penetration rate stood at 78.1 percent.1 The majority of Jordanians access the internet on their phones. The number of fiber-optic subscriptions has also increased in recent years.2

Investment in telecommunications infrastructure has led to improved internet speeds. As of June 2022, the median mobile download and upload speeds were 19.34 megabits per second (Mbps) and 14.57 Mbps, respectively. The median fixed-line broadband download and upload speeds were 72.11 Mbps and 69.70 Mbps, respectively.3

More than 90 percent of Jordan’s population is now covered by 4G LTE infrastructure.4 After the reporting period, in June 2022, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) and Jordan’s mobile service providers reached an agreement on 5G licensing;5 services are expected to roll out in the first quarter of 2024.6

A2 1.00-3.00 pts0-3 pts
Is access to the internet prohibitively expensive or beyond the reach of certain segments of the population for geographical, social, or other reasons? 1.001 3.003

Internet access varies based on socioeconomic status, gender, and geography. The taxation of mobile internet service is considered a key barrier to access, particularly for low-income individuals.1

Prices for internet service have dropped in recent years due to increased competition, despite the fact that the sales tax on internet service increased from 8 percent to 16 percent in 2017.2 The most inexpensive fiber-optic fixed-line plan with a major service provider cost 25 Jordanian dinars ($35.26) per month, excluding the 16 percent sales tax.3 Monthly mobile internet prices range from 8 dinars ($11.28) for a 40 gigabyte (GB) plan to 16 dinars ($22.57) for a 275 GB plan as of August 2022.4 The average monthly salary in Jordan is around 543 dinars ($766).5

An annual survey published by the Department of Statistics found that in 2017, 10.5 percent of respondents cited cost as a reason for not accessing the internet. The survey also showed that cost impedes access more in rural areas; 17.3 percent of rural residents do not access the internet because of cost, compared to 9.5 percent in urban areas.6

During the COVID-19 pandemic, the World Bank reported that over 16 percent of Jordanian students lack internet access, 16 percent below the average seen in Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries.7 According to 2018 data from the Pew Research Center, 87 percent of adults in Jordan go online and smartphone usage is widespread. While a majority of adults aged 50 or older use smartphones, older Jordanian adults are far less likely than their younger counterparts to use them. According to the report, gender differences in internet use are “modest”; for example, 85 percent of men reported using at least one social media platform or messaging app, in contrast to 78 percent of women. The Economist Intelligence Unit’s 2021 Inclusive Internet Index found that men’s access to the internet slightly exceeds women’s by 5.1 percent, while men’s mobile phone access is 4 percent higher than women’s access.8

Mobile service providers Zain9 and Umniah10 both offer access to Facebook’s Free Basics initiative, which provides free access to a limited number of websites under a zero-rating plan known as Facebook Flex.11

A3 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does the government exercise technical or legal control over internet infrastructure for the purposes of restricting connectivity? 4.004 6.006

Score Change: The score improved from 3 to 4 because no major internet disruptions were reported during the coverage period, though disruptions to some communications platforms did occur.

The government exercises some control over the internet infrastructure. While no internet shutdowns were reported during the reporting period, the government throttled bandwidth to Facebook Live and disrupted access to messaging applications during high school exams.

In April 2021, following what the authorities referred to as a coup attempt, internet and telecommunications services were cut off for at least two days in the Dabouq neighborhood of Amman. The localized shutdown occurred in the same area where royal family members live, including Prince Hamzah, who was accused of participating in the plot.1 Some virtual private network (VPN) services were reportedly inaccessible during this time (see B1).2

Authorities have restricted bandwidth to communications platforms, often during protests. Following a royal decree to restrict the communications of Prince Hamzah in May 2022, Facebook Live was reportedly inaccessible for two and a half hours.3 Facebook Live was also reportedly disrupted in July and August 2020, amid protests and strikes by members and supporters of the Teachers’ Syndicate and particularly during larger demonstrations.4 In March 2021, protests took place in several cities after COVID-19 patients died due to oxygen shortages. Authorities responded by throttling access to Facebook Live and blocking Clubhouse.5 While Facebook Live was only temporarily inaccessible, Clubhouse remained blocked by ISPs at the end of the coverage period (see B1).6 Facebook Live has been disrupted in the past, including in December 2018 and January 2019 during antiausterity protests.7 While the government has denied restricting access to Facebook Live, many social media users maintained that the authorities were behind the disruptions (see B3 and B8).8

Authorities frequently order ISPs to disrupt access to messaging and communications applications while students sit their exams (see B1).9 In June and July 2021, the TRC ordered the three major ISPs to block access to messaging apps for a brief period during high school exams. In a statement, the TRC noted that access to those apps may be impeded in areas surrounding exam locations.10

Orange Jordan remains the landing party for the FLAG FEA submarine cable,11 the only east-west cable that serves Jordan.12 However, several providers, like Damamax and LinkDotNet, have independent international connectivity.13 International connectivity is also provided via terrestrial connections from neighboring countries as an alternative to submarine cables. In 2015, the Regional Cable Network (RCN) was launched to provide a high-capacity terrestrial fiber-optic network from Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to Amman,14 an addition to the established JADI (Jeddah-Amman-Damascus-Istanbul) link in operation since 2010.15

A4 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Are there legal, regulatory, or economic obstacles that restrict the diversity of service providers? 3.003 6.006

The TRC regulates the licensing of telecommunications providers and ISPs. Article 20 of the Telecommunications Law requires providers to secure a license in order to establish, operate, and administer telecommunications networks and provide telecommunications services.1 For an ISP, the initial license fees are $42,300.2

Generally, licenses are awarded “to all qualified applicants,” though this does not always apply in practice. The law lists what it calls “objectively justifiable reasons not to grant licenses,” such as national security restrictions, scarce resources, technical limitations, and “when award of the license would lead to an anticompetitive environment in the market.”3

Three mobile service providers dominate the market: Umniah, a subsidiary of Batelco Bahrain; Zain; and Orange Jordan.4 Each provider controls more than 30 percent of the market. Orange Jordan is 51 percent owned by Orange SA of France, with the remaining shares divided between Jordan’s Social Security Corporation, Noor Telecommunications, and others.5 In July 2018, the then Ministry of Information and Communication Technology (MoICT) confirmed that the government had no intention to license a fourth mobile service provider.6 In 2022, the TRC’s 5G licensing negotiations involved only the three current operators.7

The market power of the country’s largest telecommunications provider, Orange Jordan, has been diluted in recent years. Orange’s de facto monopoly on the international gateway and local backbone has been eroded by competitive terrestrial international connectivity and new fiber-optic backbones established by other providers.8 In a 2020 market review conducted by the TRC, Orange was found to have a dominant market position in leased lines and wholesale broadband access, subjecting the company to additional regulations.9

In addition, long-awaited regulations to enforce full local loop unbundling (LLU) were issued by the TRC in 2017,10 in an effort to introduce more fixed-line-sector competition by forcing Orange to open its networks to other providers. However, according to a TRC report released in 2019, LLU “has not been implemented effectively,” limiting its competition-encouraging effects.11

A5 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do national regulatory bodies that oversee service providers and digital technology fail to operate in a free, fair, and independent manner? 1.001 4.004

The TRC, the sector regulator, does not always operate in an independent manner. It is governed by the Telecommunications Law and defined as a “financially and administratively independent juridical personality.”1 Nonetheless, it is accountable to the Ministry of Digital Economy and Entrepreneurship (MoDEE),2 which the MoICT was renamed to in May 2019. The TRC’s board of commissioners and chairperson are appointed upon nomination by the prime minister based on the MoDEE minister’s recommendation.3 The Telecommunications Law endorses free-market policies and governs licensing and quality assurance.4

In November 2021, the government proposed amendments to the Telecommunications Law that would allow the prime minister to discharge the chairperson and commissioners of the TRC board.5 The amendments have not been approved by the Council of Ministers as of July 2022.

B Limits on Content

B1 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does the state block or filter, or compel service providers to block or filter, internet content, particularly material that is protected by international human rights standards? 3.003 6.006

The government at times blocks websites, often for failure to obtain a license. In 2021, service providers blocked the audio-only social media app Clubhouse, in addition to VPNs that enable users to bypass censorship.

In October 2021, there were reports that the website of the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ) was temporarily blocked hours before the release of the Pandora Papers, in which King Abdullah was accused of buying luxury properties through shell companies.1 Access to the ICIJ’s website was restored before the investigation’s results were published.2

Clubhouse was blocked in mid-March 2021, after protests were held in several cities over an oxygen shortage that led to the deaths of COVID-19 patients. Clubhouse remained inaccessible in Jordan as the end of the coverage period; however, some users reported being able to access it via VPNs.3 Clubhouse was widely used by activists, public figures, and dissidents—including those residing outside Jordan—and was able to attract a growing user base of Jordanians who used the platform to freely discuss the political situation in the country.4

Widely used VPN apps were reportedly blocked shortly after Clubhouse became inaccessible. ExpressVPN, ProtonVPN, NordVPN, and TunnelBear were inaccessible on a number of major service providers.5 There have been no previous restrictions on VPNs in Jordan, although the TRC warned against their use in 2019.6

In June 2021, the Media Commission (MC), which was previously named the Press and Publications Department, announced that it blocked an unspecified number of websites that violated licensing regulations.7 In 2019, new licensing regulations were enforced by the MC; 45 news sites were subsequently blocked after failing to obtain licenses (see B6).8 However, many of these sites have since successfully applied for licenses and their access has been restored.9

In March 2019, the MC blocked Al-Urdunyya, an opposition news site based outside Jordan, a few hours after its launch, because it did not have a license. The owners were not notified of the decision.10 The website stopped its operations by March 2021.

In 2017, the MC reissued a 2016 order to block access to the local LGBT+ online magazine My.Kali after an Islamist member of parliament, Dima Tahboub, requested an inquiry into the site.11 It remained inaccessible at the end of the coverage period.

Every year since 2015, the government ordered ISPs to block access to messaging apps on days that secondary school students sit for their national exam (Tawjihi).12 In 2018, the number of blocked apps reached seven, including WhatsApp, Messenger, Twitter, and Instagram. Although the restrictions are confined to locations near examination halls and limited to the time period surrounding the exams,13 they drew criticism again in 2020 from activists who consider them excessively restrictive and lacking a legal basis (see A3).14

B2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do state or nonstate actors employ legal, administrative, or other means to force publishers, content hosts, or digital platforms to delete content, particularly material that is protected by international human rights standards? 1.001 4.004

State pressure on editors of news sites and online activists to delete content is relatively common.

In October 2021, AmmanNet, the only Jordanian media outlet to cover the Pandora Papers, was pressured by the General Intelligence Directorate (GID) to remove an online story about the investigation. AmmanNet’s director reported receiving a WhatsApp message from the GID’s liaison press relations officer asking him to delete an article covering King Abdullah’s foreign real estate holdings. The news outlet removed the article, fearing retaliation.1

In June 2020, cartoonist Rafat al-Khateeb deleted a caricature he published on his Facebook page after being attacked on social media and threatened with legal prosecution. The cartoon, which was posted shortly after the murder of George Floyd in the United States, depicted former prime minister Omar al-Razzaz kneeling on a citizen’s neck. Ultimately, no legal action was taken against al-Khateeb.2

In August 2020, Prince Ali bin Hussein, the half-brother of King Abdullah, deleted a tweet he published with a link to an article denouncing the UAE-Israel deal. The tweet included a picture of posters of UAE president Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan, who was then Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, with the Arabic word “traitor” written across them.3 According to media sources, the tweet disappeared after King Abdullah ordered Prince Ali to delete it to preserve Amman’s relationship with the UAE.4

In December 2018, the Facebook page of the Al-Wakeel news site removed a post containing a doctored image of Leonardo da Vinci’s The Last Supper that had provoked widespread indignation. In the doctored painting, which was considered offensive to Christians, Turkish celebrity chef Nusret Gökçe, also known as Salt Bae, sprinkles salt on Christ’s food. The website’s publisher, Mohammed al-Wakeel, apologized and said the post was the result of a mistake by a trainee editor.5 However, al-Wakeel was later arrested for inciting religious strife with the post.

In June 2019, at least four Jordanian journalists were prevented from publishing articles critical of a Bahrain-hosted conference where the economic aspects of an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan were presented by the United States. The conference was widely criticized in Jordan. Journalists from the Ad-Dustour and Al-Ghad dailies reported that articles on the conference were banned. The editor of a Jordanian news site, meanwhile, said that the “security services” told editors not to publish negative material on Jordan’s participation in the conference.6

B3 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do restrictions on the internet and digital content lack transparency, proportionality to the stated aims, or an independent appeals process? 1.001 4.004

Internet and digital-content restrictions sometimes lack transparency and proportionality. The sporadic blocking of Facebook Live (see A3), in addition to Clubhouse’s inaccessibility (see B1), raised concerns about the lack of transparency in blocking procedures.

The blocking of news sites is carried out according to the Press and Publications Law (PPL), amended in 2012, which stipulates that news sites need to obtain an MC license or face being blocked. Publications subject to this provision are defined as any website “with a specific web address on the internet which provides publishing services, including news, reports, investigations, articles, and comments.”1 Articles 48 and 49 of the law enable the MC’s head to block any website for failing to obtain a license or, more broadly, for violating Jordanian law. The law’s expansive definition of news sites could be interpreted to include almost all Jordanian and international websites, blogs, portals, and social networks.

Officially, the TRC is the entity responsible for issuing blocking orders to ISPs. However, the TRC has stated that it does not possess the authoritative power to restrict access to such services without a legal order. Civil society groups raised concerns that the blockings of Clubhouse and VPN tools were performed extralegally, particularly because authorities failed to provide justification for these restrictions.

There has been a lack of transparency and inconsistencies around who orders the restrictions of certain apps. A joint technical report from the Open Observatory of Network Interference (OONI) and the Jordan Open Source Association found that Facebook Live was temporarily interfered with during the 2018–19 protests.2 During another Facebook Live disruption in 2021, sources within the telecommunications sector confirmed that authorities blocked Facebook Live broadcasting for several hours.3

Additionally in March 2021, the head of the TRC stated that his agency “ha[d] nothing to do” with the blocking of Clubhouse (see B1), while the MoDEE minister stated that Jordanian networks were operating normally.4 Furthermore, the TRC denied that they had issued any orders to block VPN tools and that they had not received any complaints regarding VPNs’ inaccessibility. However, some VPN companies confirmed they received complaints from users in Jordan who were unable to connect.5

The 2012 amendments to the PPL increased the liability of intermediaries for content posted on news sites, leaving outlets potentially responsible for readers’ comments. Clause 3 of Article 49 states that both the editors in chief and the owners of online publications are legally responsible for all content posted to their sites.6 Moreover, websites must keep a record of all comments for six months after initial publication and refrain from publishing any “untruthful” or “irrelevant” comments.7

B4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Do online journalists, commentators, and ordinary users practice self-censorship? 2.002 4.004

Many Jordanian journalists continue to self-censor, including on topics related to the armed forces, royal court, religion, and sex-related issues.1

A report published in 2021 shows that many media outlets practice prepublication self-censorship and that self-censorship was widespread among journalists as a result of the many violations they face, including lawsuits, intimidation, and detention (see C3 and C7). Specifically, the director of the Community Media Network noted that journalists avoid critical topics and issues in their reporting.2 According to one journalist, the government makes it difficult for journalists to access certain information or write on particular issues, which “pushes journalists to exercise self-censorship.”3

A 2020 report by the Amman-based Center for Defending the Freedom of Journalists about media coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic indicated that self-censorship escalated as a result of the activation of the Defense Law (see C2).4

B5 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are online sources of information controlled or manipulated by the government or other powerful actors to advance a particular political interest? 2.002 4.004

The online information landscape continues to be limited by direct bans on reporting on certain topics, particularly during sensitive or tense events. For instance, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the government issued a defense order that prohibited “publishing, re-publishing, or circulating any news about the epidemic in order to terrify people or cause panic among them” (see C2).1

Occasionally online disinformation campaigns seek to manipulate content. A report released in July 2021 by the Stanford Internet Observatory showed a coordinated disinformation network active on Clubhouse and TikTok that pushed promilitary, promonarchy narratives. Videos shared from the network’s accounts were critical of Prince Hamzah, while others criticized the Islamic State militant group.2 In a separate report, Facebook said the network targeted domestic audiences and was linked to local individuals associated with the Jordanian military.3

Authorities have issued reporting bans during politically sensitive moments or to hinder coverage of demonstrations and protests in recent years. In April 2021, Public Prosecutor Hassan al-Abdallat banned the publication of any information related to the purported coup attempt involving Prince Hamzah.4 The media ban was issued “to preserve the confidentiality of an ongoing investigation” and prohibited the sharing of videos and audio related to the case on social media.5 The media ban was heavily criticized by journalists and social media users,6 prompting al-Abdallat to clarify that the gag order did not ban the publication of opinions protected under international freedom-of-expression standards, and that it was limited to the investigation documents and trial hearings.7

In March 2021, a media blackout of local reporting on protests related to the deaths of COVID-19 patients was evident,8 although the protests were widely covered on social media. In July 2020, the government issued a gag order that prohibited local media from reporting on the Teachers’ Syndicate protests.9

Since late 2016, two gag orders limiting independent coverage about the armed forces and the king have been enforced. All media outlets, including those that publish online, are banned from reporting news about the king and the royal family unless it is obtained from official bulletins released by the Royal Hashemite Court.10 The MC also bans publication of any reports about the armed forces outside of statements made by the forces’ media spokesperson.

B6 1.00-3.00 pts0-3 pts
Are there economic or regulatory constraints that negatively affect users’ ability to publish content online? 1.001 3.003

Several economic and regulatory constraints present obstacles for digital media in Jordan. For example, the PPL defines news sites as “electronic publications,” which subjects them to the same stringent restrictions imposed on print media by the 1998 PPL (see B3).1

In September 2021, the government proposed a set of licensing regulations for live streaming platforms. The regulations would require users who want to stream via Facebook, Instagram, or other platforms to acquire an annual license. Those who do not could face up to five years in prison (see C2). Another proposal would raise the annual licensing fee for news sites, which currently stands at $70, to over $700.2 Both regulations were later withdrawn by the government after fierce pushback from journalists and social media users.

Licensing for online publications is regulated through a similar process to that of print media. Specifically, in 2017, the MC issued a bylaw that imposed a $2,100 licensing fee and $71 annual renewal fee on news sites.3 The amended PPL requires any electronic publication that publishes domestic or international news, press releases, or comments to register with the Ministry of Commerce and Industry. One of the requirements for a general news site to obtain a license is to have an editor in chief who has been a member of the state-controlled Jordan Press Association (JPA) for at least four years. As of 2014, online journalists can join the body. Additional constraints were imposed in a separate bylaw issued in 2017, which requires news sites to hire at least five journalists.4

In late 2018, the MC began enforcing these licensing criteria more vigorously. Beginning in 2019, both online and print publications without a full-time editor who worked exclusively at that outlet would have 10 days to rectify the situation.5

Following the 2012 amendments to the PPL, most news sites hired editors in chief who were already JPA members in order to meet the criteria to obtain a license, a concerning development for independent media given that most JPA members work in government or government-related media outlets.6

B7 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does the online information landscape lack diversity and reliability? 3.003 4.004

Although users can access a wide range of news sources and information online, including through social media, state censorship of online content reduces the variety of information available on the internet. The narrow definition of a “journalist” according to the JPA Law and the dominance of the JPA as a union are additional barriers to pluralism and diversity in online media.1

Local newspapers and media outlets often refrain from covering sensitive topics, especially if they might be perceived to undermine national security. In recent years, the coverage of stories pertinent to the king’s wealth or the royal family are limited to official government statements. For instance, no media outlets covered the Pandora Papers investigation exposing King Abdullah’s ownership of luxury homes,2 although some republished the Royal Hashemite Court’s official statement on the issue.3 A majority of media outlets did not report on Prince Hamzah renouncing his title in April 2022.4 Similarly, local newspapers remained silent about the alleged coup attempt in 2021.5

In 2020, many journalists stated that coverage during the COVID-19 pandemic lacked diversity and that the official government narrative was the only one represented in the media.6 According to some media professionals, Jordanians had to resort to social media and foreign outlets to obtain more accurate and trustworthy information about the pandemic and the alleged coup. For example, former information minister Jumana Ghuneimat confirmed that social media platforms have become the main sources of information, as local media outlets are restricted when any important event occurs.7

Many of the censored websites focus on individuals and communities not well covered by traditional media, from political opposition based abroad to the LGBT+ community. However, the content of these websites is often accessible through other channels, such as Facebook and Twitter pages. Additionally, some websites are mirrored via different, unblocked domains.

Although Jordan has the second-highest per capita proportion of refugees in the world,8 with 761,000 in the country as of May 2022,9 a 2015 study of four news sites found that only 2 percent of sample media coverage focused on refugee issues.10

B8 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Do conditions impede users’ ability to mobilize, form communities, and campaign, particularly on political and social issues? 4.004 6.006

Social media was used throughout the reporting period to mobilize demonstrations and protests as well as to campaign and communicate about several issues. In the past, authorities have responded by restricting internet access and blocking or throttling social media platforms. Many protesters use Facebook Live to broadcast demonstrations. During the 2019 antiausterity demonstrations, short video reports on these events received tens of thousands of views,1 overshadowing coverage by traditional or official media outlets.2 However, by the end of 2018 and into 2019, Facebook Live was blocked during weekly demonstrations. In July and August 2020, Facebook Live was throttled during strikes and protests by members and supporters of the Teachers’ Syndicate (see A3).3

Facebook Live was disrupted on multiple ISPs when King Abdullah placed Prince Hamzah under house arrest in May 2022;4 Hamzah was accused of participating in a purported coup plot in April 2021 (see A3). Soon after those initial accusations surfaced, tens of thousands of Jordanians showed their support for Prince Hamzah online.5 For example, the hashtags #الامير_حمزة_حر_شريف [Prince Hamzah is Free and Honorable] and #كلنا_الأمير_حمزة [We Are All Prince Hamzah] trended that month.6 Following a media blackout, where Prince Hamzah made no comment for several days, concerns about his safety led to daily hashtag campaigns asking #أين_الأمير_حمزة [Where_Is_Prince_Hamzah?].7 A government spokesperson responded to the online support for Prince Hamzah by claiming that 120,000 fake social media accounts from outside Jordan were used to manipulate “public opinion” of the case.8

Several online campaigns pushed the government to withdraw several media-related regulations it proposed in September 2021; if approved, they would have required special licenses for streaming live videos online (see B6). Several hashtags were shared during these campaigns, including #انقذوا_حريه_التعبير [Save Freedom of Expression], #اسحبوا_انظمه_الاعلام [Withdraw the Media Regulations], and #انظمه_الاعلام_مخالفه_للدستور [The Media Regulations Are Unconstitutional].9

Social media users organized online campaigns around free speech issues during the coverage period. In March 2022, the hashtag #الحرية_لأنس_الجمل [Freedom for Anas al-Jamal] was trending in Jordan.10 Authorities announced a decision to arrest Al-Jamal, and activist, after he online comments criticizing a meeting between Israeli, Egyptian, and Emirati leaders (see C3). Another hashtag was trending in January 2022 in solidarity with a member of the parliament, Osama al-Ajarmeh, who was expelled over statements that were considered “offensive” against the king after he accused the government of deliberately cutting electricity to prevent a pro-Palestine march.11 The same month, al-Ajarmeh was sentenced to 12 years of hard labor for insulting the king.12

Social media platforms were crucial in the country’s longest-ever teachers’ strike in September 2019. During the strike of the 87,000 members of the largest Jordanian syndicate, the Jordan Teachers Association (JTA),13 teachers used apps like Facebook and WhatsApp to better organize their efforts; to spread messages in a consistent way through images, poetry, slogans, and other forms of art; and to support the JTA’s leadership.14 The hashtags #مع_المعلم [with the teacher] and #إضراب_المعلم [teacher’s strike] were prominently used on social media by users who supported the protests.15

Online users who organize protests are sometimes prosecuted. In March 2022, authorities began a campaign of “preemptive” arrests of political activists, aiming to prevent potential protests. More than 150 individuals were arrested in various cities across Jordan around the anniversary of the 2011 Arab Spring uprisings.16 Most of those arrested were charged under of the Crime Prevention Law, which allows governors to unilaterally order the detention of anyone they deem dangerous; most were released on the same day (see C2).17

C Violations of User Rights

C1 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Do the constitution or other laws fail to protect rights such as freedom of expression, access to information, and press freedom, including on the internet, and are they enforced by a judiciary that lacks independence? 2.002 6.006

Although the constitution contains some protections for free speech online, several laws, including the penal code, impose disproportionate or unnecessary restrictions in practice (see C2).

Several constitutional amendments introduced in 2011 directly or indirectly touch on internet freedom. Terms such as “mass media” and “other means of communication,” which likely encompass online media, were added to provisions that protect freedom of expression and concomitantly allow for its limitation during states of emergency, among other provisions (see C5). Despite the passage of the Access to Information Law in 2007, several restrictions on requests for information about sensitive social and religious matters remain in place.1

Judicial independence is limited. The king unilaterally appoints the entire Constitutional Court and the chair of the Judicial Council, which nominates judges for the civil court system and is mostly comprised of senior judiciary members.

  • 1For example, the law bars public requests for information involving religious, racial, ethnic, or gender discrimination (Article 10), and allows officials to withhold all types of classified information, a very broad category (Article 13), see: “Summary of the Study on Access to Information Law in Jordan,” Arab Archives Institute, June 2005,
C2 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Are there laws that assign criminal penalties or civil liability for online activities, particularly those that are protected under international human rights standards? 1.001 4.004

Several laws impose criminal penalties and civil liability for online speech.

The penal code forbids any insult of the royal family, state institutions, national symbols, or foreign states, as well as “any writing or speech that aims at or results in causing sectarian or racial strife.” Defamation is a criminal offense.1 Authorities have also used lèse-majesté charges to penalize online users.

According to Article 11 of the Cybercrime Law, which was passed in 2015, internet users face at least three months in jail and a maximum fine of $2,800 if they are found guilty of defamation on social media or online media outlets. In practical terms, this means that journalists face harsher penalties for defamation online than in print publications, since the PPL prohibits the jailing of journalists for press offenses. In 2015, the Law Interpretation Bureau ruled that Article 11 of the Cybercrime Law supersedes other legislation, rendering journalists’ immunity under the PPL largely irrelevant2 as they can be jailed for any defamatory articles that appear online.3

Article 11 has been disproportionately utilized by public prosecutors to limit free speech online. However, a 2021 Court of Cassation ruling said that any case brought under Article 11 must follow a complaint filed by the injured party, limiting the scope of Article 11’s applicability and prohibiting the public prosecution from pursuing cases without the plaintiff initiating a lawsuit.4

Several other laws continue to threaten access to information and free expression online. These include the 1959 Contempt of Court Law, the 1971 Protection of State Secrets and Classified Documents Law, the 1992 Defense Law, the JPA Law, and the PPL.

The PPL bans the publication of “material that is inconsistent with the principles of freedom, national obligation, human rights, and Arab-Islamic values.”5 Article 38 of the law prohibits any “contempt, slander, or defamation of or abuse of” religions or prophets. The same article prohibits the publication of any material that is defamatory or slanderous of individuals, who are also protected against “rumors” and “anything that hinders their personal freedom.”6 Journalists, website owners, and other internet users face a range of possible fines for violating the law.7

In March 2020, as COVID-19 was detected in Jordan, Defense Law No. 13 of 1992 was activated via royal decree.8 One of the executive ordinances issued under the law, Defense Order No. 8, prohibited “publishing, re-publishing, or circulating any news about the epidemic in order to terrify people or cause panic among them via media, telecommunications, or social media.” The order set penalties of up to three years in prison, a fine of $4,230, or both.9 The Defense Law and related orders were still in effect at the end of the coverage period. In May 2022, however, King Abdullah announced the pending deactivation of the law.10

In September 2021, the government proposed a set of new licensing regulations for live streaming platforms (see B6). The regulations would require users who want to perform live streams on Facebook, Instagram, or other platforms to acquire an annual license or risk as much as five years in prison.11 The regulations were later withdrawn by the government after fierce protests from journalists and social media campaigns (see B8).

Amendments to an antiterrorism law passed in 2014 expanded the definition of “terrorism” to include a broader range of activity.12 In addition to offenses such as attacking members of the royal court or provoking an “armed rebellion,” the definition of terrorism now includes any acts that “threaten the country’s relations to foreign states or expose the country or its citizens to retaliatory acts on them or their money,” an offense that had already been listed in the penal code.13 The law also explicitly penalizes the use of ICTs to promote, support, or fund terrorist acts, or to subject “Jordanians or their property to danger of hostile acts or acts of revenge.”14

C3 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Are individuals penalized for online activities, particularly those that are protected under international human rights standards? 3.003 6.006

Several individuals were arrested, prosecuted, and imprisoned for their online activities during the reporting period.1

Social media content deemed critical of the government or its policies can result in criminal penalties. In May 2022, Anas al-Jamal, a street vendor and member of the Partnership and Salvation Party (PSP), was prosecuted under Article 118 of the penal code, which criminalizes the disturbance of relations with a friendly country, after he published a tweet criticizing a meeting between Egyptian, Emirati, and Israeli leaders.2

In October 2021, activist Kameel al-Zoubi was arrested under the Cybercrime Law following a personal complaint from Prime Minister Bisher al-Khasawneh; al-Khasawneh’s complaint related to al-Zoubi’s claims that his wife received a salary from a government agency, which al-Zoubi published on Facebook.3 The charges were dropped in November 2021 after the prime minister withdrew the complaint.4

Journalists were arrested during the coverage period for their critical online content. In March 2022, two journalists were detained at Amman’s airport on charges under the Cybercrime Law. In March 2022, Taghreed Risheq, a member of Democracy for the Arab World Now, was detained at Amman’s airport over a January 2022 social media post in which she criticized an article from a progovernment columnist which mocked the late Saudi-born journalist Jamal Khashoggi.5 Also in March, journalist Daoud Kuttab, the director of the Community Media Network, was detained over a 2020 article about a Jordanian American investor who was jailed for using a check with insufficient backing funds, despite an apparent lack of evidence.6 While the charges against Risheq were dismissed, Kuttab still faced trial as of the end of the coverage period. After the incidents, Faisal al-Shboul, the Minister for Media Affairs, announced that the government would no longer use the Cybercrime Law to detain airport travelers.7

In June 2021, prosecutors launched proceedings against Wafa al-Khadra and Zaid Nabulsi, both members of the Royal Committee to Modernize the Political System (RCMPS), as well as the poet Zulaikha Abu Risha, for insulting religion on social media.8 They were charged under Article 278 of the penal code. In a Facebook post, al-Khadra criticized the manner in which animals were slaughtered during Eid al-Adha rituals.9 Abu Risha defended al-Khadra on Facebook by replying to comments on her post. Separately, Nabulsi criticized a constitutional article identifying Islam as the state religion on Facebook. At first instance, the judge imposed a one-week sentence, which could be replaceable with a fine, against al-Khadra. The judge found Abu Risha not guilty.10 Nabulsi was not prosecuted as his post was published in 2018.11

In August 2020, several individuals were detained for their online activities in relation to the arrests of leading members of the Teachers’ Syndicate, which had been staging regular protests.12 A man from the northern city of Jerash was summoned by the cybercrime unit after voicing his support of the protests on Facebook. He was detained for inciting an illegal gathering but a court ordered his release on the same day. He was once again detained by the governor and held for two nights before being released after his father signed a pledge that this son would no longer support the union or protests on social media, on pain of a 50,000 dinar ($70,500) fine.13

Individuals are prosecuted under Article 118 of the penal code, which punishes anyone who engages in acts, writings, or speeches that disturb Jordan’s relations with a foreign state. For example, Emad Hajjaj, an Al-Araby al-Jadeed cartoonist, was arrested and charged under the antiterrorism law in August 2020 after he published an online cartoon criticizing the diplomatic deal between the UAE and Israel and mocking Prince Mohammed bin Zayed. He was released a few days later following public outcry and his case was downgraded from terrorism to libel. In January 2021, prosecutors in Amman decided to end proceedings against Hajjaj (see B8).14

In September 2020, Badi al-Rafaiah, a senior member of the Islamic Action Front (IAF), was detained for several days on lèse-majesté charges of “insulting the head of a foreign state” because of a six-month old Facebook post. The detention’s timing was considered suspicious, as it preceded the November 2020 parliamentary elections, in which the IAF took part.15 In December 2020, one of the leaders of the PSP, Mohamad al-Majali, was prosecuted on three lèse-majesté charges including insulting a state institution and “influencing the electoral process” after he published a Facebook post presenting a legal opinion about the electoral proceedings.16

In May 2020, animal rights activist Ali Sarsour was detained over his social media activity. Sarsour was charged with lèse-majesté for insulting an official entity after he claimed to share the surname of Queen Rania. In another post, Sarsour stated that he named his dog after a former health minister. He was detained for over 60 days before receiving bail.17

In April 2019, a court sentenced activist Abdullah Wreikat to one year in prison for criticizing the king in a tweet.18 In the same month, activist Sabri al-Masha’leh was sentenced to two years in prison after being convicted on lèse-majesté charges for four Facebook posts published in February that allegedly insulted the king. The sentence was later reduced to one year.19

C4 1.00-4.00 pts0-4 pts
Does the government place restrictions on anonymous communication or encryption? 2.002 4.004

Some restrictions on anonymous communication and encryption exist in Jordan.

In 2021, there were multiple reports of restrictions on VPNs, as several circumvention tools were reportedly blocked by service providers (see B1 and B3).

SIM card registration is mandatory for all mobile phone users.1 In 2018, the TRC announced that a biometric system for mobile and internet SIM card registration would be established, requiring users to submit their fingerprints.2

Cybercafé customers must supply personal identification information before they use the internet (see C6).

C5 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does state surveillance of internet activities infringe on users’ right to privacy? 2.002 6.006

Score Change: The score declined from 3 to 2 after multiple reports showed that activists, HRDs, and opposition party members were targeted with spyware during the coverage period.

State surveillance in Jordan threatens users’ right to privacy. Many Jordanians reportedly have a long-standing belief that “someone is listening in” on their phone calls. This attitude has carried over to the internet, where security services are believed to closely monitor online comments, cataloging them by date, internet protocol (IP) address, and location.1

Evidence emerged that Jordanians were targeted by surveillance technology during the coverage period. According to a February 2022 press report, more than 200 Jordanian smartphone users were targeted with Pegasus spyware, which is sold by Israeli firm NSO Group.2 According to local media, the targets include at least one human rights activist, Hala Ahed Deeb, in addition to officials from the Royal Hashemite Court, parliament members, and members of the Jordanian Olympic Committee.3 Deeb, a member of the legal team supporting the Teachers’ Syndicate—which was dissolved by authorities in 2020—first had her phone infected with Pegasus spyware in March 2021.4

Prominent members of the IAF, the largest Islamic party in the country, were also reportedly targeted with Pegasus. Individuals with close ties to the party and who are outspoken critics of the government, like journalist Husam Gharibeh and Muslim Brotherhood member Badi Rafayyeh, also had their devices infected.5 While IAF members suspect the Israeli government had orchestrated the use of spyware,6 other sources referred to a potential collaboration between Jordan and the UAE.7 In April 2022, the government, through the National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC), denied “that government agents had targeted the phones of Jordanian citizens” or that it had collaborated with other parties to surveil citizens. The NCSC also stated that private communications could not be violated under Jordanian law.8

In April 2022, Front Line Defenders and Citizen Lab reported that the devices of four HRDs were compromised between 2018 and 2020. The targets included Malik Abu Orabi, a member of the Teachers’ Syndicate’s legal team; Ahmed al-Neimat, a Hirak member; and investigative journalist Suhair Jaradat.9 Although the investigation was unable to “directly connect these names to any specific Pegasus operator,” the domains used in the attacks likely originated in Jordan.10 Several activists believe that these attacks were carried by government agents.11 According to Front Line Defenders, at least two Pegasus users are likely government agencies, one of which was been active since late 2018 and the other since late 2020.12

Members of the royal family are not immune from surveillance. In April 2021, US outlet Axios reported that Jordanian authorities were in negotiations with the NSO Group to obtain spyware months before the alleged coup. According to Axios, security agents had also been monitoring Prince Hamzah’s communications for months.13 It is unclear if authorities purchased spyware during these talks, though the government is suspected to have acquired spyware from the NSO Group in the past.14

Article 18 of the constitution protects the right to privacy but allows for surveillance “by a judicial order in accordance with the provisions of the law.” The antiterrorism law permits the prosecutor general to order surveillance upon receiving “reliable information” that “a person or group of persons is connected to any terrorist activity.”15 Under Article 18 of the 2011 constitutional amendments (see C1), judicial approval was added as a precondition for confiscation of private communications.16

In 2019, the TRC issued new regulations for telecommunication operators and ISPs that included mandatory data retention requirements (see C6). The regulations include a vague clause addressing when authorities can request such data. According to Article 9.2 of the regulations, the TRC can provide other entities with user data records in “public interest” cases.17

C6 1.00-6.00 pts0-6 pts
Does monitoring and collection of user data by service providers and other technology companies infringe on users’ right to privacy? 2.002 6.006

Service providers and technology companies are required by law to assist the government in monitoring user communications. The Telecommunications Law requires that telecommunications providers take appropriate measures to enable the retention of user communications upon judicial or administrative order.1

Jordan lacks online privacy legislation. In December 2021, the government approved a draft data protection law that is meant to regulate how personal data is collected, used, and published. The draft was referred to the Parliamentary Economic and Investment Committee in January 2022. While the current draft has some similarities to privacy laws in other countries,2 Jordan’s privacy law fails to ensure the independence of the proposed Data Protection Authority, which would be comprised of members of the government and the security forces.3 Additionally, the draft’s vague language undermines certain privacy provisions.4

According to a 2019 report published by the London-based ImpACT International for Human Rights Policies and Access Now, some ISPs clearly violate customers’ privacy by collecting intrusive user information without prominently disclosing that fact or explaining how the data are used.5 In absence of a personal data protection law, some tech companies state in their privacy policy that, by using their application, users give permission for the company to share user data with authorities if required to do so.6

During the COVID-19 national vaccination program, the personal data of vaccinated people were shared to telecommunications companies without their consent. The data of vaccine recipients, including their names, phone numbers, and vaccination dates, were reportedly used to promote telecommunications services via short-message service (SMS) texts according to the Jordanian Open Source Association’s April 2020 statement.7

In May 2018, the Ministry of Transportation published instructions for licensing ride-hailing apps, which allow the ministry, as well as judicial and security bodies, access to the companies’ servers and databases without a court order.8 With this data, the government can track the movements and activities of users.

Since 2010, cybercafé owners are required to retain the browsing histories of users for at least six months.9 Authorities claim that these restrictions are necessary for security reasons. Cybercafés are required by law “to take all procedures and arrangements” to ensure that customers are not accessing terrorist-related material, though there is little guidance on what actions would be legally permissible.

C7 1.00-5.00 pts0-5 pts
Are individuals subject to extralegal intimidation or physical violence by state authorities or any other actor in relation to their online activities? 3.003 5.005

Journalists and other internet users continued to face harassment in retaliation for their online activities during the reporting period. In general, female journalists1 and members of the LGBT+ community2 are disproportionally targeted for their online activities. Activists are frequently subjected to online harassment and doxing, often to silence them or discredit their activities.

According to the 2021 State of Media Freedom Index published by the Center for Defending Freedom of Journalists, surveyed journalists stated their belief that press freedom shrank during the reporting year, while violations increased.3 Some 51.4 percent of respondents also stated their belief that the government or affiliated bodies engaged in defamation against them. In June 2021, columnist Oraib al-Rantawi was targeted by a social media campaign after publishing an article in Ad-Dustour about the role of Fatah, the Palestinian group that now leads the Palestinian Authority, in the 1968 Battle of Karameh. Al-Rantawi said he was a victim of a “campaign of incitement and abuse,” but he did not specify who orchestrated the harassment.4

Online harassment campaigns targeted members of the RCMPS, which was formed by the king and is mandated to suggest amendments to the legal framework governing elections and political parties. In June 2021, committee member Wafa al-Khadra said she faced “hate speech and bullying” by social media users who reacted to a Facebook post regarding Eid al-Adha–related sacrifice practices. Al-Khadra did not clarify if the campaign was organized by state actors, but noted she was facing charges over her online content (see C3).5 She resigned from the committee after facing harassment.6

In August 2020, online journalist Khaleel Qandeel was stopped by a plainclothes police officer while covering a Teachers’ Syndicate protest in Russeifa. After being questioned over his photography, Qandeel, who works for the online edition of the Al-Sabeel newspaper, was accused of taking unauthorized photos of police officers, which is illegal. Qandeel deleted the photos from his mobile phone, but it was later confiscated by the police officer who brought him to a police station. In the station, Qandeel was asked to show to the officer his social media accounts, but he refused to show his Facebook account and WhatsApp messages to the officer.7

Ahead of the 2020 parliamentary election, at least 22 journalists and media personnel working for online outlets experienced some harassment during their coverage. In one case, Ayman Abu Tinah, a journalist with Jawharat Arab News, was asked to delete content by police officers in Madaba. In addition, Ayman Fdailat from Al Jazeera Net and Ghaith Tall from Sawaleif both reported being intimidated when covering the vote-counting process, by police officers in Amman in the first case and by election officers in Irbid in the latter.8

C8 1.00-3.00 pts0-3 pts
Are websites, governmental and private entities, service providers, or individual users subject to widespread hacking and other forms of cyberattack? 1.001 3.003

Cyberattacks against politicians’ online accounts and news sites have been reported in recent years.1

In February 2022, then NCSC head Ahmad Mulhem stated that Jordan faced more than 800 cyberattacks targeting state institutions and vital sectors since that January.2 The targets included the royal court, security agencies, the Amman Stock Exchange, and publicly and privately owned companies. According to the NCSC, 13 percent of the cyberattacks’ perpetrators were linked to “terrorist” organizations.3 The NCSC was established under the 2019 Cybersecurity Law to protect the national infrastructure from cyberthreats.4 A new NCSC head was appointed by royal decree in March 2022.5

The hacking of politicians’ social media accounts is not uncommon. Although no cases were reported during the coverage period, the Facebook profile of the former Islamist parliamentarian Saleh al-Armouti, was hacked in July 20196 and again in October 2020.7 The Facebook profile of Naser Nawasreh, the deputy head of the Teachers' Syndicate, was hacked in October 2019.8 The identities of these hackers are unknown.

Official institutions are also targets of cyberattacks. For instance, the official Twitter account of the government’s anti-misinformation platform,, was hacked in February 2022.9 The website of the Amman Chamber of Commerce was hacked in March 2021, though its database, which contains a directory of Jordanian firms, was left intact.10 In July 2019, the official website of the Constitutional Court was compromised by an “international hacker.” A picture with phrases insulting the Jordanian state and security forces was put in place of its home page.11

On Jordan

See all data, scores & information on this country or territory.

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  • Global Freedom Score

    33 100 not free
  • Internet Freedom Score

    47 100 partly free
  • Freedom in the World Status

    Not Free
  • Networks Restricted

  • Websites Blocked

  • Pro-government Commentators

  • Users Arrested