Jordan’s New Cybercrime Law is a Disaster for LGBT People

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08/14/2023

On Saturday Jordan’s king approved a draconian cybercrime law that was rammed through parliament and is significantly worse than its antecedent. The law jeopardizes rights online and offline, including free expression and the right to privacy, and contains vague provisions that could target marginalized groups, including lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) people. The 2023 Cybercrime Law, under articles 13 and 14, punishes the production, distribution, or consumption of “pornographic content,” which is undefined, and content “promoting, instigating, aiding or inciting immorality,” with at least six months’ imprisonment and a fine. These provisions could target digital content around gender and sexuality, as well as individuals who use digital platforms to advocate for the rights of LGBT people. The law also threatens the right to anonymity under article 12 by appearing to prohibit use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), proxies, and Tor, which many LGBT people use to shield themselves online, effectively forcing individuals to choose between keeping their identity secure and freely expressing their opinions.

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