Jordan’s King Abdullah II on Tuesday defended a new law that bans both virtual private networks (VPNs) as well as online content deemed by authorities to be divisive, saying the legislation does not compromise freedom of expression.
The new law “must not be on account of the right of Jordanians to express themselves or criticise public policies”, he told members of a pro-government human rights council, according to Jordan's official TV channel.
The law criminalises the use of VPNs, which help internet users to bypass local restrictions and maintain anonymity online
Jordan allows for different views, “as proven by our history”, said the monarch.
“Jordan is not an arbitrary country and it will never be,” said King Abdullah, who has ruled since 1999.
The US, Jordan's main donor and military supporter, has condemned the new law, saying it undermines free speech.
Those who spread “false news” that “undermines national unity” or commit “character assassination” online face jail terms of no less than three months and up to three years, as well as thousands of dollars in fines.
Internet users who “offend public morals” will receive at least nine months in jail.