Jordan's Legal Environment
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Jordan recently amended its intellectual property laws (copyright, patent, and trademark) in 1999 and again in 2001. The original law for the copyright law was drafted and 1992 and revisited in 1999 in order to abide by the rules of acquiring membership to the WTO. The copyright law protects literary, artistic and scientific works including computer software. Any infringement on copyrights is punishable by law with a maximum penalty of three years in prison and three thousand Dinars[13]. The law also specifies a “work for hire” clause which gives the employer the copyright of any work produced by the employees or as specified in the contract. The law is not being enforced to the fullest extent and has cut down piracy significantly. According to the International Planning and Research Corporation, the retail software revenue lost to piracy in 1996 was $2,659,000 whereas the revenue lost in 2001 was $1,021,000; and the piracy rates have decreased from 83% to 67%.[15]

Privacy in Jordan is not explicitly guaranteed in the constitution, however it is implied in Article 18 which states “All postal, telegraphic, and telephonic communications shall be treated as secret and as such shall not be subject to censorship or suspension except in circumstances prescribed by law."[14] The authorities are required to obtain a warrant from a prosecutor general or a judge in order to be able to wiretap a telephone or search a house or car. However, in practice authorities do not always abide by this and often break the law and wiretap phones without prior permission from a judge.[15] In order to stimulate growth in e-commerce Jordan must enforce data protection laws so that the people shopping online can feel safer.

Censorship in Jordan is limited to the press and general media. However, when it comes to viewing websites of international news agencies and newspapers there is no censorship. The only known website to be censored in Jordan is an independent newspaper by the name of arabtimes (www.arabtimes.com). The website itself boasts the fact that it is banned from all Arab countries. Although not documented, it is common knowledge in Jordan than some chat rooms are monitored by Jordan Intelligence Agency.

As far as electronic commerce is concerned, there are no cybersquatting issues in Jordan due to the strict regulations by which a company can obtain a .jo website. The NIC has posted regulations on its website (www.nic.gov.jo) where companies can go in and check them. Companies will have to show proof that the name of the domain being applied for is relevant to the company itself.

The Temporary Law No.85 for the year 2001 (Electronic Transactions Law), which is effective as of the 31st of December 2001, was passed in order to "promote the development of the information technology industry in Jordan and to develop customer confidence in the Internet as a commercial medium" [16]. The law primarily has three principals:

All electronic transmitted information is to be treated as equivalent to paper-based counterparts.[16]

Electronically transmitted information can be treated as evidentiary material. [16]

"The third principle is to facilitate the conduction of business and the conclusion of contracts electronically, with regards to both public and private transactions" [16].

The law also contains a section on e-signatures. E-Signatures are considered legal when there is a method to identify the person signing the record and to indicate his approval [17]. An E-Signature is legal when it has the following attributes: [17]

If it is unique in its connection to the pertinent person.

Sufficient to identify its owner.

Generated in a manner or means specific to that person and under his control.

Connected to the record related thereto in a way that does not allow modification to that record after signing such without altering the signature.

This law, however, is handicapped by the fact that Ministry laws take precedence over general laws. In the example provided in the E-Government sections of this website, the Ministry Trade cannot accept e-signatures because there are laws specific to the Ministry that states that a legal signature is on paper and should be done in front of a government clerk. The creation of the law is a step in the right direction, but there are private laws that apply to specific organizations that need to be revised in order to fully utilize the new law.