In an uplifting turn of events, Samih al-Ma`ayta, political adviser of the prime minister and one of those assigned to work on the implementation of the Cassation Court’s ruling on Websites and the Press and Publication law, said earlier today that the government welcomes coordination and constructive criticism, according to AmmonNews.
There is no battle between the government and the electronic media, and the government welcomes constructive criticism and values differing opinions on the matter, and will not seek any form of the law without the consultation and approval with publishers of online journals, and welcomes the cooperation with all concerned parties to achieve the fitting formulation. We are committed too coordinate with those who disagree and no one-sided decision will be reached.
I happy. Now lets hope that the electronic press committee itself isn’t corrupt. I hope the Jordanian blogosphere also takes advantage of such statement and makes sure that the blogosphere itself will be engaged in a healthy dialogue with the government.
I know the whole talk about inclusion of websites in the press and publication law can indicate some very bad scenarios, chief among them is self-censorship, fear of writing critical high-quality articles, etc. My only message to the Jordanian blogosphere is: don’t change.
There are a lot of things we don’t know yet, and unless there’s direct evidence that says that we should worry, we shouldn’t. That is not to say that we shouldn’t care about the issue, but we shouldn’t let it change our attitude towards whatever it is that we do.
First, there no clear evidence that the ruling applies only to media sites/news agencies (i.e. alghad.jo, ammonnews.net, ammannet.net, etc.) or blogs as well; so bloggers don’t need to worry from now.
Second, there is no indication of how things will work. As it has been mentioned earlier, there is a government committee trying to figure out how to apply the law to the web; requirements about identity vs. anonymity, trade unions, having an editor-in-chief, etc. most likely won’t apply to blogs. Similarly, some of the restrictions on information in news articles (who are there to portray facts), might not apply to blogs (who are there to portray opinion).
So go about your business for now and write freely; if a government spokesperson drops a bombshell, its another story. When fighting the decision, speak as honestly and freely as you always have. If you have a critical post in store, share it and educate us all. Criticize the government, and hope they’ll be open minded and strive to improve. Act as if its some sort of utopia, and if a decision or announcement tells us definitely that its not, you’ll have time to go back and self-sensor your past posts or something.