To the Jordanian Parliament: amend the data protection bill, safeguard human rights

The privacy of people across Jordan must be safeguarded — it’s time for the Jordanian Parliament to  address the red flags of the new national draft data protection bill and ensure its compliance with international human rights and data protection  standards.

Submitted by the government in January 2022,  the draft has gone through various stages and periods of stalemate since its first iteration in 2014.

The Committee for Economy and Investment is currently reviewing and amending the draft bill, before it is voted upon. The bill advances strong data protection safeguards in line with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), considered to be the international gold standard. Yet, there remain serious loopholes that could render the bill toothless, such as dangerous conflicts of interests in handing the future data protection authority roles — including Chair — to the ICT Minister, and government and security agencies representatives. This will compromise the authority’s independence, and hinder it from doing its job as an oversight body.

Despite basing Jordan’s draft data protection bill on the EU’s GDPR, it fails to address the main issues raised by civil society and experts regarding the independence of the future data protection authority. A safe, effective data protection ecosystem needs transparency, accountability, and, importantly, autonomy from government interference. Chérif El Kadhi, MENA Policy Analyst at Access Now

Access Now and Jordanian civil society’s privacy warnings come against a backdrop of continuous violations resulting from the absence of a data protection law in the country. Personal information is collected and exploited on a large scale by private companies, international organizations, and government institutions without transparency or protection of their privacy.

It’s more urgent than ever for Jordan to pass a robust data protection law amid the mass collection and processing of people’s personal data without oversight or guardrails. Access Now highly welcomes the revival of the draft data protection bill after many years of stalemate, and urges the Jordanian Parliament to make the necessary amendments to make the law compatible with international data protection standards, and ensure the full respect of people’s privacy across the country. Marwa Fatafta, MENA Policy and Advocacy Manager at Access Now

Access Now’s policy brief How to Strengthen Jordan’s Data Protection Law unpacks information on the current draft bill, its strengths, and shortcomings.